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Full text of "Bucky O'Connor : a tale of the unfenced border"

BUCKY LEAPED INTO THE FIBEGLOW AND WBESTED THE KIDING-WHIP FROM HIS 

HAND. 

Frontispiece. Page 90. 



BUCKY 
O'CONNOR 

A Tale of the Unfenced Border 

BY 

WILLIAM MacLEOD RAINE 

AUTHOR OF 

WYOMING, A TEXAS RANGER, 
RIDGWAY OF MONTANA, ETC. 



ILLUSTRATIONS BY 

CLARHNCE RQWE 



GRO55ET & DUNLAP 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY 
STREET & SMITH. 

COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY 
G. W. DILLJNGHAM COMPANY. 



Bvcky 



To My Brother 
EDGAR C. RAINE 

MY DEAR WANDERER: 

I write your name on this page that you may 
know we hold you not less in our thoughts because 
you have heard and answered again the call of 
the frozen North, have for the time disappeared, 
swallowed in some of its untrodden wilds. As in 
those old days of 59 Below On Bonanza, the long 
Winter night will be of interminable length. 
Armed with this note of introduction then, Bucky 
O'Connor offers himself, with the best bow of one 
Adventurer to another, as a companion to while 
away some few of those lonely hours. 

March, 1910, Denver* 



CM 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. Enter ''Bear-Trap" Collins . . 9 

II. Taxation Without Representation . 18 

III. The Sheriff Introduces Himself . 33 

IV. A Bluff is Called .... 50 

V. Bucky Entertains . . . . 78 

VI. Bucky Makes a Discovery . . 89 

VII. In the Land of Revolutions . .113 

VIII. First Blood! . . . . .124 

IX. "Adore Has Only One D" . . 146 

X. The Hold-Up of the M. C. P. Flyer 161 
XL "Stone Walls Do Not a Prison 

Make" 171 

XII. A Clean White Man's Option . .192 

XIII. Bucky's First-Rate Reasons . . 203 

XIV. Le Roi Est Mort ; Vive Le Roi . 214 

XV. In the Secret Chamber . . . 232 

XVI. Juan Valdez Scores . . .248 

XVII. Hidden Valley .... 257 

XVIII. A Dinner for Three . . .276 

XIX. A Villon of the Desert . . .290 

XX. Back to God's Country . . 306 
XXL The Wolf Pack . . , .321 
XXII. For a Good Reason - . 337 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Bucky leaped into the fireglow and wrested the 

riding-whip from his hand . . . Frontispiece 90 

Was this vivid, dazzling creature the boy? . . . 107 

The two men looked at each other steadily in a 
long silence 274 

He pitched forward, his arm around the horse's neck 330 



Bucky O'Connor 

CHAPTER I. 
ENTER "BEAR-TRAP" COLLINS. 

SHE had been aware of him from the moment 
of his spectacular entrance, though no slight- 
est sign of interest manifested itself in her 
indolent, incurious eyes. Indeed, his abundant and 
picturesque area was so vivid that it would have 
been difficult not to feel his presence anywhere, let 
alone on a journey so monotonous as this was prov- 
ing to be. 

It had been at a water-tank, near Socorro, that 
the Limited, churning furiously through brown 
Arizona in pursuit of a lost half-hour, jarred to a 
sudden halt that shook sleep from the drowsy eyes 
of bored passengers. Through the window of her 
Pullman the young woman in Section 3 had 
glimpsed a bevy of angry train officials eddying 
around a sturdy figure in the center, whose strong, 
lean head rose confidently above the press. There 
was the momentary whirl of a scuffle, out of the 
tangle of which shot a brakeman as if propelled 
from a catapult. The circle parted, brushed aside 
by a pair of lean shoulders, muscular and broad. 
Yet a few moments and the owner of the shoulders 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



led down the aisle to the vacant section opposite 
her a procession whose tail was composed of pro- 
testing trainmen. 

"You had no right to flag the train, Sheriff Col- 
lins, and you'll have to get off; that's all there is 
to it," the conductor was explaining testily. 

"Oh, that's all right," returned the offender with 
easy good nature, making himself at home in Sec- 
tion 4. "Tell the company to send in its bill. No 
use jawing about it." 

"You'll have to get off, sir." 

"That's right at Tucson." 

"No, sir. You'll have to get off here. I have no 
authority to let you ride." 

"Didn't I hear you say the train was late ? Don't 
you think you'd arrive earlier at the end of your 
run if your choo-choo got to puffing?" 

"You'll have to get off, sir." 

"I hate to disoblige," murmured the owner of 
the jingling spurs, the dusty corduroys, and the 
big, gray hat, putting his feet leisurely on the 
cushion in front of him. "But doesn't it occur to 
you that you are a man of one idea?" 

"This is the Coast Limited. It doesn't stop for 
anybody not even for the president of the road." 

"You don't say ! Well, I ce'tainly appreciate the 
honor you did me in stopping to take me on." His 
slight drawl was quite devoid of concern. 

"But you had no right to flag the train. Can't 
you understand anything?" groaned the conductor. 

10 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"You explain it again to me, sonny. I'm surely 
thick in the haid," soothed the intruder, and lis- 
tened with bland good-humor to the official's flo\y 
of protest. 

"Well well! Disrupted the whole transconti- 
nental traffic, didn't I? And me so innocent, too. 
Now, this is how I figured it out. Here's me in a 
hurry to get to Tucson. Here comes your train 
a-foggin' also and likewise hittin' the high spots 
for Tucson. Seemed like we ought to travel in 
company, and I was some dubious she'd forget to 
stop unless I flagged her. Wherefore, I aired my 
bandanna in the summer breeze." 

"But you don't understand." The conductor be- 
gan to explain anew as to a dull child. "It's against 
the law. You'll get into trouble." 

"Put me in the calaboose, will they?" 

"It's no joke." 

"Well, it does seem to be worrying you," Mr. 
Collins conceded. "Don't mind me. Free your 
mind proper." 

The conductor, glancing about nervously, noticed 
that passengers were smiling broadly. His official 
dignity was being chopped to mince-meat. Back 
came his harassed gaze to the imperturbable Col- 
lins with the brown, sun-baked face and the eyes 
blue and untroubled as an Arizona sky. Out of a 
holster attached to the sagging belt that circled 
the corduroy trousers above his hips gleamed the 
butt of a revolver. But in the last analysis the 

II 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



weapon of the occasion was purely a moral one. 
The situation was one not covered in the company's 
rule book, and in the absence of explicit orders the 
trainman felt himself unequal to that unwavering 
gaze and careless poise. Wherefore, he retreated, 
muttering threats of what the company would do. 

"Now, if I had only known it was against the 
law. My thick haid's always roping trouble for 
me/* the plainsman confided to the Pullman con- 
ductor, with twinkling eyes. 

That official unbent. "Talking about thick heads, 
I'm glad my porter has one. If it weren't iron- 
plated and copper-riveted he'd be needing a doctor 
now, the way you stood him on it." 

"No, did I? Ce'tainly an accident. The nig- 
ger must have been in my way as I climbed into the 
car. Took the kink out of his hair, you say? Here, 
Sam!" He tossed a bill to the porter, who was 
rolling affronted eyes at him. "Do you reckon this 
is big enough to plaster your injured feelings, boy?" 

The white smile flashed at him by the porter 
was a receipt for indemnity paid in full. 

Sheriff Collins' perception of his neighbor across 
the aisle was more frank in its interest than the 
girl's had been of him. The level, fearless gaze 
of the outdoors West looked at her unabashed, ap- 
preciating swiftly her points as they impinged 
themselves upon his admiration. The long, lithe 
lines of the slim, supple body, the languid grace 
missing hauteur only because that seemed scare 

12 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



worth while, the unconscious pride of self that 
fails to be offensive only in a young woman so 
well equipped with good looks as this one indubit- 
ably was the rider of the plains had appraised 
".hem all before his eyes dismissed her from his 
consideration and began a casual inspection of the 
other passengers. 

Inside of half an hour he had made himself 
persona grata to everybody in the car except his 
dark-eyed neighbor across the way. That this dis- 
penser of smiles and cigars decided to leave her out 
in the distribution of his attentions perhaps spoke 
well for his discernment. Certainly responsiveness 
to the geniality of casual fellow passengers did not 
impress Mr. Collins as likely to be an outstanding 
quality in her. But with the drummer from Chi- 
cago, the young mining engineer going to Sonora, 
the two shy little English children just in front 
of him traveling to meet their father in California, 
he found intuitively common ground of interest. 
Even Major Mackenzie, the engineer in charge of 
the large irrigation project being built by a com- 
pany in southern Arizona, relaxed at one of the 
plainsman's humorous tales. 

It was after Collins had half -depopulated the car 
by leading the more jovial spirits back in search of 
liquid refreshments that an urbane clergyman, now 
of Boston but formerly of Pekin, Illinois, pro- 
fessedly much interested in the sheriff's touch-and- 
go manner as presumably quite characteristic of the 

13 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



West, dropped into the vacant seat beside Major 
Mackenzie. 

"And who might our energetic friend be?" he 
asked, with an ingratiating smile. 

The young woman in front of them turned her 
head ever so slightly to listen. 

"Val Collins is his name," said the major. 
"Sometimes called 'Bear-trap Collins.' He has al- 
ways lived on the frontier. At least, I met him 
twelve years ago when he was riding mail between 
Aravaipa and Mesa. He was a boy then, cer- 
tainly not over eighteen, but in a desperate fight he 
had killed two men who tried to hold up the mail. 
Cow-puncher, stage-driver, miner, trapper, sheriff, 
rough rider, politician he's past master at them 
alt" 

"And why the appellation of 'Bear-trap,' may 1 
ask?" The smack of pulpit oratory was not often 
missing in the edifying discourse of the Reverend 
Peter Melancthon Brooks. 

"Well, sir, that's a story. He was trapping in 
the Tetons about five years ago thirty miles from 
the nearest ranch-house. One day, while he was 
setting a bear-trap, a slide of snow plunged down 
from the tree branches above and freed the spring, 
catching his hand between its jaws. With his feet 
and his other hand he tried to open that trap for 
four hours, without the slightest success. There 
was not one chance in a million of help from out- 
side. In point of fact, Collins had not seen a human 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



being for a month. There was only one thing to 
do, and he did it." 

"And that was?" 

"You probably noticed that he wears a glove 
over his left hand. The reason, sir, is that he has 
an artificial hand." 

"You mean " The Reverend Peter paused 

to lengthen his delicious thrill of horror. 

"Yes, sir. That's just what I mean. He hacked 
his hand off at the wrist with his hunting-knife." 

"Why, the man's a hero!" cried the clergyman, 
with unction. 

Mackenzie flung him a disgusted look. "We 
don't go much on heroes out here. He's game, if 
that's what you mean. And able, too. Bucky 
O'Connor himself isn't any smarter at following a 
trail." 

"And who is Bucky O'Connor?" 

"He's the man that just ran down Fernendez. 
Think I'll have a smoke, sir. Care to join me?" 

But the Pekin-Bostonian preferred to stay and 
jot down in his note-book the story of the bear- 
trap, to be used later as a sermon illustration. This 
may have been the reason he did not catch the quick 
look that passed without the slightest flicker of the 
eyelids between Major Mackenzie and the young 
woman in Section 3. It was as if the old officer 
had wired her a message in some code the cipher 
of which was known only to them. 

But the sheriff, returning at the head of his 

15 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



cohorts, caught it, and wondered what meaning 
might lie back of that swift glance. Major Mac- 
kenzie and this dark-eyed beauty posed before 
others as strangers, yet between them lay some 
freemasonry of understanding to which he had not 
the key. 

Collins did not know that the aloofness in the 
eyes of Miss Wainwright he had seen the name 
on her suit-case gave way to horror when her 
glance fell on his gloved hand. She had a swift, 
shuddering vision of a grim-faced man, jaws set 
like a vise, hacking at his wrist with a hunting- 
knife. But the engaging impudence of his eye, the 
rollicking laughter in his voice, shut out the picture 
instantly. 

The young man resumed his seat, and Miss 
Wainwright her listless inspection of the fiying 
stretches of brown desert. Dusk was beginning to 
fall, and the porter presently lit the lamps. Collins 
bought a magazine from the newsboy and relapsed 
into it, but before he was well adjusted to reading 
the Limited pounded to a second unscheduled halt. 

Instantly the magazine was thrown aside and 
Collins' curly head thrust out of the window. Pres- 
ently the head reappeared, simultaneously with the 
crack of a revolver, the first of a detonating fusil- 
lade. 

"Another of your impatient citizens eager tc 
utilize the unspeakable convenience of rapid tran- 

16 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



sit," suggested the clergyman, with ponderous jo- 
cosity. 

"No, sir; nothing so illegal," smiled the cattle- 
man, a whimsical light in his daredevil eyes. He 
leaned forward and whispered a word to the little 
girl in front of him, who at once led her younger 
brother back to his section. 

"I had hoped it would prove to be more divert- 
ing experience for a tenderfoot," condescended the 
gentleman of the cloth. 

"It's ce'tainly a pleasure to be able to gratify 
you, sir. You'll be right pleased to know that it 
is a train hold-up." He waved his hand toward the 
door, and at the word, as if waiting for his cue, 
a masked man appeared at the end of the passage 
with a revolver in each hand. 



CHAPTER II. 

TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. 

"Hands up!" 

There was a ring of crisp menace in the sinister 
voice that was a spur to obedience. The unanimous 
show of hands voted "Aye" with a hasty precision 
that no amount of drill could have compassed. 

It was a situation that might have made for 
laughter had there been spectators to appreciate. 
But of whatever amusement was to be had one of 
the victims seemed to hold a monopoly. Collins, 
his arm around the English children by way of 
comfort, offered a sardonic smile at the consterna- 
tion his announcement and its fulfilment had cre- 
ated, but none of his fellow passengers were in the 
humor to respond. 

The shock of an earthquake could not have 
blanched ruddy faces more surely. The Chicago 
drummer, fat and florid, had disappeared com- 
pletely behind a buttress of the company's uphols- 
tery. 

"God bless my soul!" gasped the Pekin-Boston- 
ian, dropping his eyeglass and his accent at the 
same moment. The dismay in his face found a re- 
flection all over the car. Miss Wainwright's hand 

18 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



clutched at her breast for an instant, and her color 
ebbed till her lips were ashen, but her neighbor 
across the aisle noticed that her eyes were steady 
and her figure tense. 

"Scared stiff, but game," was his mental com- 
ment. 

"Gents to the right and ladies to the left; line 
up against the walls; everybody waltz/'' called the 
man behind the guns, with grim humor. 

The passengers fell into line as directed, Collins 
with the rest. 

"You're calling this dance, son ; it's your say-so, 
I guess," he conceded. 

"Keep still, or I'll shoot you full of holes," 
growled the autocrat of the artillery. 

"Why, sure! Ain't you the real thing in Jesse 
Jameses?" soothed the sheriff. 

At the sound of Collins' voice, the masked man 
had started perceptibly, and his right hand had 
jumped forward an inch or two to cover the speak- 
er more definitely. Thereafter, no matter what 
else engaged his attention, the gleaming eyes be- 
hind the red bandanna never wandered for a mo- 
ment from the big plainsman. He was taking no 
risks, for he remembered the saying current in 
Arizona, that after Collins' hardware got into ac- 
tion there was nothing left to do but plant the de- 
ceased and collect the insurance. He had personal 
reasons to know the fundamental accuracy of the 
colloquialism. 

19 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The train-conductor fussed up to the masked 
outlaw with a ludicrous attempt at authority. "You 
can't rob the passengers on this train. I'm not 
responsible for the express-car, but the coaches 



A bullet almost grazed his ear and shattered a 
window on its way to the desert. 

"Drift, you red-haired son of a Mexican?" 
ordered the man behind the red bandanna. "Git 
back to that seat real prompt. This here's taxation 
without representation." 

The conductor drifted as per suggestion. 

The minutes ticked themselves away in a tense 
strain marked by pounding hearts. The outlaw 
stood at the end of the aisle, watching the sheriff 
alertly. 

"Why doesn't the music begin ?" volunteered Col- 
lins, by way of conversation, and quoted: "On 
with the dance. Let joy be unconfmed." 

A dull explosion answered his question. The 
bandits were blowing open the safe in the express- 
car with dynamite, pending which the looting of the 
passengers was at a standstill. 

A second masked figure joined his companion at 
the end of the passage and held a hurried conversa- 
tion with him. Fragments of their low-voiced talk 
came to Collins. 

"Only thirty thousand in the express-car. . . . 
Not a red cent on the old man himself. . . . 

20 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Where's the rest?" The irritation in the new- 
comer's voice was pronounced. 

Collins slewed his head and raked him with keen 
eyes that missed not a detail. He was certain that 
he had never seen the man before, yet he knew at 
once that the trim, wiry figure, so clean of build and 
so gallant of bearing, could belong only to Wolf 
Leroy, the most ruthless outlaw of the Southwest. 
It was written in his jaunty insolence, in the flash- 
ing eyes. He was a handsome fellow, white- 
toothed, black-haired, lithely tigerish, with master- 
ful mouth and eyes of steel, so far as one might 
judge behind the white mask he wore. Alert, cruel, 
fearless from the head to the heel of him, he looked 
the very devil to lead an enterprise so lawless and 
so desperate as this. His vigilant eyes swept con- 
temptuously up and down the car, rested for a mo- 
ment on the young woman in Section 3, and came 
back to his partner. 

"Bah ! A flock of sheep tamest bunch of spring, 
lambs we ever struck. I'll send Scotty in to go 
through them. If anybody gets gay, drop him." 
And the outlaw turned on his heel. 

Another of the highwaymen took his place a 
stout, squat figure in the flannel shirt, spurs, and 
chaps of a cow-puncher. It took no second glance 
to tell Collins this bandy-legged fellow had been 
a rider of the range. 

"Come, gentlemen, get a move on you," Collins 
implored. "This train's due at Tucson by eight 

21 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



o'clock. We're more than an hour late now. 
I'm holding down the job of sheriff in that same 
town, and I'm awful anxious to get a posse out 
after a bunch of train-robbers. So burn the wind, 
and go through the car on the jump. Help yourself 
to anything you find. Who steals my purse takes 
trash. 'Tis something, nothing. 'Twas mine; 'tis 
his. That's right, you'll find my roll in that left- 
hand pocket. I hate to have you take that gun, 
though. I meant to run you down with that same 
old Colt's reliable. Oh, well, just as you say. No, 
those kids get a free pass. They're going out to 
meet papa at Los Angeles, boys. See?" 

Collins' running fire of comment had at least 
the effect of restoring the color to some cheeks that 
had been washed white and of snatching from the 
outlaws some portion of their sense of dominating 
the situation. But there was a veiled vigilance id- 
his eyes that belied his easy impudence. 

"That lady across the aisle gets a pass, too, boys," 
continued the sheriff. "She's scared stiff now, and 
you won't bother her, if you're white men. Her 
watch and purse are on the seat. Take them, if 
you want them, and let it go at that." 

Miss Wainwright listened to this dialogue si- 
lently. She stood before them cool and imperious 
and unwavering, but her face was bloodless and the 
pulse in her beautiful soft throat fluttered like a 
caged bird. 

"Who's doing this job?" demanded one of the 

22 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



hold-ups, wheeling savagely on the impassive officer. 
"Did I say we were going to bother the lady? 
Who's doing this job, Mr. Sheriff?" 

"You are. I'd hate to be messing the job like 
you holding up the wrong train by mistake." 
This was a shot in the dark, and it did not quite 
hit the bull's-eye. "I wouldn't trust you boys to 
rob a hen-roost, the amateur way you go at it. 
When you get through, you'll all go to drinking like 
blue blotters. I know your kind hell-bent to spend 
what you cash in, and every mother's son of you in 
the pen or with his toes turned up inside of a 
month." 

"Who'll put us there?" gruffly demanded the bow- 
legged one. 

Collins smiled at him with confidence superb. 
"Mebbe I will and if I don't Bucky O'Connor will 
those of you that are left alive when you get 
through shooting each other in the back. Oh, I 
see your finish to a fare-you-well." 

"Cheese it, or I'll bump you off." The first out- 
law drove his gun into the sheriff's ribs. 

"That's all right. You don't need to punctuate 
that remark. I line up with the sky-pilot and chew 
the cud of silence. I merely wanted to frame up 
to you how this thing's going to turn out. Don't 
come back at me and say I didn't warn you, sonnie." 

"You make my head ache," snapped the bandy- 
legged outlaw sourly, as he passed down the aisle 
with his sack, accumulating tribute as he went. 

23 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The red-kerchiefed robber whooped when they 
came to the car conductor. "Dig up, Mr. Pullman. 
Go way down into your jeans. It's a right smart 
pleasure to divert the plunder of your bloated cor- 
poration back to the people. What! Only fifty- 
seven dollars. Oh, dig deeper, Mr. Pullman." 

The drummer contributed to the sack eighty-four 
dollars, a diamond ring, and a gold watch. His 
hands were trembling so that they played a tattoo 
on the sloping ceiling above him. 

"What's the matter, Fatty? Got a chill?" in- 
quired one of the robbers, as he deftly swept the 
plunder into the sack. 

"For God's sake don't shoot. I have a wife 
and five children," he stammered, with chattering 
teeth. 

"No race suicide for Fatty. But whyfor do they 
let a sick man like you travel all by his lone?" 

"I don't know I Please turn that weapon 

another way." 

"Plumb chuck full of malaria," soliloquized the 
owner of the weapon, playfully running its busi- 
ness end over the Chicago man's anatomy. "Shakes 
worse'n a pair of dice. Here, Fatty. Load up with 
quinine and whisky. It's sure good for chills." The 
man behind the bandanna gravely handed his victim 
back a dollar. "Write me if it cures you. Now 
for the sky-pilot. No white chips on this plate, 
parson. It's a contribution to the needy heathen. 
You want to be generous. How much do you say ?" 

24 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The man of the cloth reluctantly said thirty dol- 
lars, a Lincoln penny, and a silver-plated watch in- 
herited from his fathers. The watch was declined, 
with thanks, the money accepted without. 

The Pullman porter came into the car under com- 
pulsion of a revolver in the hand of a fourth out- 
law, one in a black mask. His trembling finger 
pointed out the satchel and suit-case of Major Mac- 
kenzie, and under orders he carried out the bag- 
gage belonging to the irrigation engineer. Collins 
observed that the bandit in the black mask was so 
nervous that the revolver in his hand quivered like 
an aspen in the wind. He was slenderer and much 
shorter than the Mexican, so that the sheriff decided 
he was a mere boy. 

It was just after he had left that three shots in 
rapid succession rang out in the still night air. 

The red-bandannaed one and his companion, who 
had apparently been waiting for the signal, retreated 
backward to the end of the car, still keeping the 
passengers covered. They flung rapidly two or 
three bullets through the roof, and under cover of 
the smoke slipped out into the night. A moment 
later came the thud of galloping horses, more shots, 
and, when the patter of hoofs had died away si- 
lence. 

The sheriff was the first to break it. He thrust 
his brown hands deep into his pockets and laughed 
laughed with the joyous, rollicking abandon of a 
tickled schoolboy. 

25 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Hysterics?'' ventured the mining engineer sym- 
pathetically. 

Collins wiped his eyes. "Call 'em anything you 
like. What pleases me is that the reverend gentle- 
man should have had this diverting experience so 
prompt after he was wishing for it." He turned, 
with concern, to the clergyman. "Satisfied, sir? 
Did our little entertainment please, or wasn't it up 
to the mark?" 

But the transported native of Pekin was game. 
"I'm quite satisfied, if you are. I think the affair 
cost you a hundred dollars or so more than it did 



me." 



"That's right," agreed the sheriff heartily. "But 
I don't grudge it not a cent of it. The show was 
worth the price of admission." 

The car conductor had a broadside ready for 
him. "Seems to me you shot off your mouth more 
than you did that big gun of yours, Mr. Sheriff." 

Collins laughed, and clapped him on the back. 
"That's right. I'm a regular phonograph, when you 
wind me up." He did not think it necessary to ex- 
plain that he had talked to make the outlaws talk, 
and that he had noted the quality of their voices sc 
carefully that he would know them again among 
a thousand. Also he had observed other things 
the garb of each of the men he had seen, their 
weapons, their manner, and their individual peculi- 
arities. 

The clanking car took up the rhythm of the rails 
26 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



as the delayed train plunged forward once more 
into the night. Again the clack of tongues, set free 
from fear, buzzed eagerly. The glow of the after- 
clap of danger was on them, and in the warm excite- 
ment each forgot the paralyzing fear that had but 
now padlocked his lips. Courage came flowing back 
into flabby cheeks and red blood into hearts of 
water. 

At the next station the Limited stopped, and the 
conductor swung from a car before the wheels had 
ceased rolling and went running into the telegraph 
office. 

"Fire a message through for me, Pat. The Lim- 
ited has been held up," he announced. 

"Held up?" gasped the operator. 

"That's right. Get this message right through to 
Sabin. I'm not going to wait for an answer. Tell 
him I'll stop at Apache for further instructions." 

With which the conductor was out again waving 
his lantern as a signal for the train to start. Sheriff 
Collins and Major Mackenzie had entered the office 
at his heels. They too had messages to send, but 
it was not until the train was already plunging into 
( the night that the station agent read the yellow slips 
they had left and observed that both of them went 
to the same person. 

"Lieutenant Bucky O'Connor, Douglas, Arizona," 
was the address he read at the top of each. His 
comment serves to show the opinion generally held 

27 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



in the sunburned territory respecting one of its citi- 
zens. 

"You're wise guys, gents, both of yez. This is 
shure a case for the leftenant. It's send for Bucky 
quick when the band begins to play," he grinned. 

Sitting down, he gave the call for Tucson, pre- 
paratory to transmitting the conductor's message to 
the division superintendent. His fingers were just 
striking the first tap when a silken voice startled 
him. 

"One moment, friend. No use being in a hurry." 

The agent looked up and nearly fell from his 
stool. He was gazing into the end of a revolver 
held carelessly in the hand of a masked man lean- 
ing indolently on the counter. 

"Whe where did you come from?" the operator 
gasped. 

"Kaintucky, but I been here a right smart spell. 
Why? You takin' the census?" came the drawling 
answer. 

"I didn't hear youse come in." 

"I didn't hear you come in, either," the man be- 
hind the mask mocked. But even as he spoke his 
manner changed, and crisp menace rang in his voice. 
"Have you sent those messages yet ?" 

"Wha what messages?" 

"Those lying on your desk. I say, have you sent 
them?" 

"Not yet." 

"Hand them over here." 
28 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The operator passed them across the counter with- 
out demur. 

"Now reach for the roof." 

Up shot the station agent's hands. The bandit 
glanced over the written sheets and commented 
aloud : 

"Huh! One from the conductor and one from 
Mackenzie. I expected those. But this one from 
Collins is ce'tainly a surprise party. I didn't know 
he was on the train. Lucky for him I didn't, or 
mebbe I'd a-put his light for good and all. Friend, 
I reckon we'll suppress these messages. Military 
necessity, you understand." And with that he 
lightly tore up the yellow sheets and tossed them 
away. 

"The conductor will wire when he reaches 
Apache," the operator suggested, not very boldly. 

The outlaw rolled a cigarette defty and borrowed 
a match. "He most surely will. But Apache is sev- 
enty miles from here. That gives us an extra hour 
and a half, and with us right now time is a heap 
more valuable than money. You may tell Bucky 
O'Connor when you see him that that extra hour 
and a half cinches our escape, and we weren't on the 
anxious seat any without it." 

It may have been true, as the train robber had 
just said, that time was more valuable to him then 
than money, but if so he must have held the latter 
of singularly little value. For he sat him down on 
the counter with his back against the wall and his 

29 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



legs stretched full length in front of him and 
glanced over the Tucson Star in leisurely fashion, 
while Pat's arms still projected roof ward. 

The operator, beginning to get over his natural 
fright, could not withhold a reluctant admiration of 
this man's aplomb. There was a certain pantherish 
lightness about the outlaw's movements, a trim 
grace of figure which yet suggested rippling muscles 
perfectly under control, and a quiet wariness of eye 
more potent than words at repressing insurgent im- 
pulses. Certainly if ever there was a cool customer 
and one perfectly sure of himself, this was he. 

"Not a thing in the Star to-day," Pat's visitor 
commented, as he flung it away with a yawn. "I'll 
bet a thousand dollars of the express company's 
money that there will be something more interesting 
in it to-morrow." 

"That's right," agreed the agent. 

"But I won't be here to read it. My engage- 
ments take me south. I'll make a present to the 
great Lieutenant O'Connor of the information. 
We're headed south, tell him. And tell Mr. Sheriff 
Collins, too happy to entertain him if he happens 
our way. If it would rest your hands any there's 
no law against putting them in your trousers 
pockets, my friend." 

From outside there came a short sharp whistle. 
The man on the counter answered it, and slipped at 
once to the floor. The door opened, to let in an- 
other masked form, but one how different from the 

30 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



first ! Here was no confidence almost insolent in its 
nonchalance. The figure was slight and boyish, the 
manner deprecating, the brown eyes shy and shrink- 
ing. He was so obviously a novice at outlawry that 
fear sat heavy upon his shoulders. When he spoke, 
almost in a whisper, his teeth chattered. 

"All ready, sir." 

"The wires are cut ?" demanded his leader crisply. 

"Yes, sir." 

"On both sides?" 

"On both sides." 

His chief relieved the operator of the revolver in 
his desk, broke it, emptied out the shells, and flung 
them through the window, then tossed the weapon 
back to its owner. 

"You'll not shoot yourself by accident now," he 
explained, and with that he had followed his com- 
panion into the night. 

There came to the station agent the sound of gal- 
loping horses, growing fainter, until a heavy silence 
seemed to fill the night. He stole to the door and 
locked it, pulled down the window blinds, and then 
reloaded his revolver with feverish haste. This 
done, he sat down before his keys with the weapon 
close at hand and frantically called for Tucson over 
and over again. No answer came to him, nor from 
the other direction when he tried that. The young 
bandit had told the truth. His companions had cut 
the wires and so isolated from the world for the 
time the scene of the hold-up. The agent under- 

31 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



stood now why the leader of the outlaws had hon 
ored him with so much of his valuable time. H< 
had stayed to hold back the telegrams until h< 
knew the wires were cut 



CHAPTER III. 

THE SHERIFF INTRODUCES HIMSELF. 

Bear-trap Collins, presuming on the new intimacy 
born of an exciting experience shared in common, 
stepped across the aisle, flung aside Miss Wain- 
wright's impedimenta, and calmly seated himself be- 
side her. She was a young woman capable of a 
hauteur chillier than ice to undue familiarity, but 
she did not choose at this moment to resent his as- 
sumption of a footing that had not existed an hour 
ago. Picturesque and unconventional conduct ex- 
cuses itself when it is garbed in picturesque and en- 
gaging manners. She had, besides, other reasons 
for wanting to meet him, and they had to do with 
a sudden suspicion that flamed like tow in her brain. 
She had something for which to thank him much 
more than he would be likely to guess, she thought 
and she was wondering, with a surge of triumph, 
whether the irony of fate had not made his pre- 
tended consideration for her the means of his un- 
doing. 

"I am sorry you lost so much, Miss Wainwright," 
he told her. 

"But, after all, I did not lose so much as you.** 
Her dark, deep-pupiled eyes, long-lashed as Diana's, 
swept round to meet his coolly. 

33 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"That's a true word. My reputation has gone 
glimmering for fair, I guess/' He laughed rue- 
fully. "I shouldn't wonder, ma'am, when election 
time comes round, if the boys ain't likely to elect 
to private life the sheriff that lay down before a 
bunch of miscreants." 

"Why did you do it?" 

His humorous glance roamed round the car. 
"Now, I couldn't think it proper for me to shoot up 
this sumptuous palace on wheels. And wouldn't 
some casual passenger be likely to get his lights put 
out when the band began to play ? Would you want 
that Boston church to be shy a preacher, ma'am?" 

Her lips parted slightly in a curve of scorn. "I 
suppose you had your reasons for not interfering." 

"Surely, ma'am. I hated to have them make a 
sieve of me." 

"Were you afraid?" 

"Most men are when Wolf Leroy's gang is on 
the war path." 

"Wolf Leroy?" 

"That was Wolf who came in to see they 
were doing the job right. He's the worst desperado 
on the border a sure enough bad proposition, I 
reckon. They say he's part Spanish and part In- 
dian, but all pisen. Others say he's a college man 
of good family. I don't know about that, for no- 
body knows who he really is. But the name is a 
byword in the country. People lower their voices 
when they speak of him and his night-riders." 

34 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I see. And you were afraid. of him?" 

"Very much/' 

Her narrowed eyes looked over the strong lines 
of his lean face and were unconvinced. "I expect 
you found a better reason than that for not oppos- 
ing them." 

He turned to her with frank curiosity. "I'd like 
real well to have you put a name to it." 

But he was instantly aware that her interest had 
been side tracked. Major Mackenzie had entered 
the car and was coming down the aisle. Plainer 
than words his eyes asked a question, and hers an- 
swered it. 

The sheriff stopped him with a smiling query: 
"Hit hard, major?" 

Mackenzie frowned. "The scoundrels took thirty 
thousand from the express car, I understand. 
Twenty thousand of it belonged to our company. I 
was expecting to pay off the men next Tuesday." 

"Hope we'll be able to run them down for you," 
returned Collins cheerfully. "I suppose you lay it 
to Wolf Leroy's gang?" 

"Of course. The work was too well done to leave 
any doubt of that." The major resumed his seat 
behind Miss Waimvright. 

To that young woman the sheriff repeated his un- 
answered question in the form of a statement. "I'm 
waiting to learn that better reason, ma'am." 

She was possessed of that spice of effrontery more 

35 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



to be desired than beauty. "Shall we say that you 
had no wish to injure your friends?" 

"My friends?" 

Her untender eyes mocked his astonishment "Do 
I choose the wrong word?" she asked, with an au- 
dacity of a courage that delighted him. "Perhaps 
they are not your friends these train robbers ? Per- 
haps they are mere casual acquaintances?" 

His bold eyes studied with a new interest her 
superb, confident youth the rolling waves of splen- 
did Titian hair, the lovely, subtle eyes with the 
depths of shadowy pools in them, the alluring lines 
of long and supple loveliness. Certainly here was 
no sweet, ingenuous youth all prone to blushes, but 
the complex heir of that world-old wisdom the 
weaker sex has shaped to serve as a weapon against 
the strength that must be met with the wit of 
Mother Eve. 

"You ce'tainly have a right vivid imagination, 
ma'am," he said dryly. 

"You are quite sure you have never seen them 
before?" her velvet voice asked. 

He laughed. "Well, noI can't say I am." 

"Aren't you quite sure you have seen them?" 

Her eyes rested on him very steadily. 

"You're smart as a whip, Miss Wainwright. I 
take off my hat to a young lady so clever. I guess 
you're right. About the identity of one of those 
masked gentlemen I'm pretty well satisfied." 

She drew a long breath. "I thought so." 

36 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Yes," he went on evenly, "I once earmarked him 
so that I'd know him again in case we met." 

"I beg pardon. You what ?" 

"Earmarked him. Figure of speech, ma'am. You 
may not have observed that the curly-headed per- 
son behind the guns was shy the forefinger of his 
right hand. We had a little difficulty once when he 
was resisting arrest, and it just happened that my 
gun fanned away his trigger finger." He added 
reminiscently : 

"A good boy, too, Neil was once. We used to 
punch together on the Hashknife. A straight-up 
rider, the kind a fellow wants when Old Man 
Trouble comes knocking at the door. Well, I reckon 
he's a miscreant now, all right." 

"They knew you at least two of them did." 

"I've been pirootin' around this country, boy and 
man, for fifteen years. I ain't responsible for every 
yellow dog that knows me," he drawled. 

"And I noticed that when you told them not to 
rob the children and not to touch me they did as you 
said." 

"Hypnotism," he suggested, with a smile. 

"So, not being a child, I put two and two together 
and draw an inference." 

He seemed to be struggling with his mirth. "I 
see you do. Well, ma'am, I've been most every- 
thing since I hit the West, but this is the first time 
I've been taken for a train robber." 

"I didn't say that," she cried quickly. 

37 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I think you mentioned an inference." The low 
laugh welled out of him and broke in his face. 
"I've been busy on one, too. It's a heap nearer the 
truth than yours, Miss Mackenzie." 
f Her startled eyes and the swift movement of her 
hand toward her heart showed him how nearly he 
had struck home, how certainly he had shattered her 
cool indifference of manner. 

He leaned forward, so close that even in the roar 
of the train his low whisper reached her. "Shall 
I tell you why the hold-ups didn't find more money 
on your father or in the express car, Miss Mac- 
kenzie?" 

She was shaken, so much so that her agitation 
trembled on her lips. 

"Shall I tell you why your hand went to your 
breast when I first mentioned that the train was go- 
ing to be held up, and again when your father's 
eyes were firing a mighty pointed question at you ?" 

"I don't know what you mean," she retorted, 
again mistress of herself. 

Her gallant bearing compelled his admiration. 
The scornful eyes, the satirical lift of the nostrils, 
the erect, graceful figure, all flung a challenge at 
him. He called himself hard names for putting her 
on the rack, but the necessity to make her believe in 
him was strong within him. 

"I noticed you went right chalky when I an- 
nounced the hold-up, and I thought it was because 
you were scared. That was where I did you an 

38 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



injustice, ma'am, and you can call this an apology. 
You've got sand. If it hadn't been for what you 
carry in the chamois skin hanging on the chain 
round your neck you would have enjoyed every min- 
ute of the little entertainment. You're as game as 
they make them." 

"May I ask how you arrived at this melodra- 
matic conclusion?" she asked, her disdainful- lip 
curling. 

"By using my eyes and my ears, ma'am. I 
shouldn't have noticed your likeness to Major Mac- 
kenzie, perhaps, if I hadn't observed that there was 
a secret understanding between you. Now, why- 
for should you be passing as strangers? I could 
guess one reason, and only one. There have twice 
been attempted hold-ups of the paymaster of the 
Yuba reservoir. It was to avoid any more of these 
that Major Mackenzie took charge personally of pay- 
ing the men. He has made good up till now. But 
there have been rumors for months that he would 
be held up either before leaving the train or while 
he was crossing the desert. He didn't want to be 
seen taking the boodle from the express company at 
Tucson. He would rather have the impression get 
gut that this was just a casual visit. It occurred to 
him to bring- along some unsuspected party to help 
him out. The robbers would never expect to find 
the money on a woman. That's why the major 
brought his daughter with him. Doesn't it make 
you some uneasy to be carrying fifty thousand in 

39 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



small bills sewed in your clothes and hung round 
your neck ?" 

She broke into musical laughter, natural and easy. 
"I don't happen to have fifty thousand with me." 

"Oh, well, say forty thousand. I'm no wizard 
/to guess the exact figure, " 

Her swift glance at him was almost timid. 

"Nor forty thousand," she murmured. 

"I should think, ma'am, you'd crinkle more than 
a silk-lined lady sailing down a church aisle on 
Sunday," 

A picture in the magazine she was toying with 
seemed to interest her. 

"I expect that's the signal for 'Exit Collins.' I'll 
say good-by till next time, Miss Mackenzie." 

"Oh, is there going to be a next time ?" she asked, 
with elaborate carelessness. 

"Several of them." 

"Indeed!" 

He took a notebook from his pocket and wrote. 

"I ain't the son of a prophet, but I'm venturing a 
prediction," he explained. 

She had nothing to say, and she said it compe- 
tently. 

"Concerning an investment in futurities I'm mak- 
ing," he continued. 

Her magazine article seemed to be beginning 
well. 

"It's a little guess about how this train robbery 
is coming out. If you don't mind, I'll leave it with 

40 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



you." He tore the page out, put it in an empty en- 
velope, sealed the flap, and handed it to her. 

"Open it in a month, and see whether my guess 
is a good one." 

The dusky lashes swept round indolently. "Sup- 
pose I were to open it to-night." 

"I'll risk it," smiled the blue eyes. 

"On honor, ami?" 

"That's it." He held out a big, brown hand. 

"You're going to try to capture the robbers, are 
you?" 

"I've been thinking that way with the help of 
Lieutenant Bucky O'Connor, I mean." 

"And I suppose you've promised yourself suc- 



cess." 



"It's on the knees of chance, ma'am. We may 
get them. They may get us." 

"But this prediction of yours ?" She held up the 
sealed envelope. 

"That's about another matter." 

"But I don't understand. You said " She 

gave him a chance to explain. 

"It ain't meant you should. You'll understand 
plenty at the proper time." 

He offered her his hand again. "We're slowing 
down for Apache. Good-by till next time." 

The suede glove came forward, and was buried in 
his handshake. 

He understood it to be an unvoiced apology of 
its owner for her suspicions, and his instinct was 

41 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



correct. For how could her doubts hold their 
ground when he had showed himself a sharer in her 
secret and a guardian of it? And how could any- 
thing sinister lie behind those frank, unwavering 
eyes or consist with that long, clean stride that was 
carrying him so forcefully to the vestibule? 

At Apache no telegrams were found waiting for 
those who had been expecting them. Communica- 
tion with the division superintendent at Tucson un- 
covered the fact that no message of the hold-up 
had yet reached him. It was an easy guess for Col- 
lins to find the reason. 

"We're in the infant class, major," he told Mac- 
kenzie, with a sardonic laugh. "Leroy must have 
galloped down the line direct to the station after the 
hold-up. Likely enough he went into the depot 
just as we went out. That gives him the other hour 
or two he needs to make his getaway with the loot. 
Well, it can't be helped now. If I can only reach 
Bucky there's one chance in fifty he can head them 
off from crossing into Sonora. Soon as I can get 
together a posse I'll take up the trail from the point 
of the hold-up. But they'll have a whole night's 
start on me. That's a big handicap." 

From Apache Collins sent three dispatches. One 
was to his deputy, Dillon, at Tucson. It read : 

"Get together at once posse of four and outfit 
same for four days." 

Another went to Sabin, the division superinten- 
dent: 

42 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Order special to carry posse with horses from 
Tucson to Big Gap. Must leave by midnight. Have 
track clear." 

The third was a notification to Lieutenant O'Con- 
nor, of the Arizona Rangers, of the hold-up, speci- 
fying time and place of the occurrence. The sheriff 
knew it was not necessary to add that the bandits 
were probably heading south to get into Sonora. 
Bucky would take that for granted and do his best 
to cover the likely spots of the frontier. 

It was nearly eleven when the Limited drew in 
to Tucson. Sabin was on the platform anxiously 
awaiting their arrival. Collins reached him even 
before the conductor. 

"Ordered the special, Mr. Sabin?" he asked, in a 
low voice. 

The railroad man was chewing nervously on an 
unlit cigar. "Yes, sheriff. You want only an en- 
gine and one car, I suppose." 

"That will be enough. I've got to go uptown now 
and meet Dillon. Midnight sharp, please." 

"Do you know how much they got?" Sabin whis- 
pered. 

"Thirty thousand, I hear, besides what they took 
from the passengers. The conductor will tell you 
all about it. I've got to jump to be ready." 

A disappointment awaited him in the telegrapher's 
room at the depot. He found a wire, but not from 
the person he expected. The ranger in charge at 
Douglas said that Lieutenant O'Connor was at Flag- 

43 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



staff, but pending that officer's return he would put 
himself under the orders of Sheriff Collins and wait 
for instructions. 

The sheriff whistled softly to himself and 
scratched his head. Bucky would not have waited 
for instructions. By this time that live wire would 
have finished telephoning all over Southern Arizona 
and would himself have been in the saddle. But 
Bucky in Flagstaff, nearly three hundred miles from 
the battlefield, so far as the present emergency went, 
might just as well be in Calcutta. Collins wired 
instructions to the ranger and sent a third message 
to the lieutenant. 

"I expect I'll hear this time he's skipped over 
to Winslow," he told himself, with a rueful grin. 

The special with the posse on board drew out at 
midnight sharp. It reached the scene of the hold- 
up before daybreak. The loading board was low- 
ered and the horses led from the car and picketed. 
Meanwhile two of the men lit a fire and made break- 
fast while the others unloaded the outfit and packed 
for the trail. The first faint streaks of gray dawn 
were beginning to fleck the sky when Collins and 
'Dillon, with a lantern, moved along the railroad bed 
to the little clump of cottonwoods where the out- 
laws had probably lain while they waited for the 
express. They scanned this ground inch by inch. 
The coals where their camp-fire had been were still 
alive. Broken bits of food lay scattered about. 
Half-trampled into the ground the sheriff picked up 

44 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



a narrow gold chain and locket. This last he opened, 
and found it to contain a tiny photograph of a 
young mother and babe, both laughing happily. A 
close search failed to disclose anything else of in- 
terest. 

They returned to their companions, ate breakfast, 
and saddled. It was by this time light enough to 
be moving. The trail was easy as a printed map, 
for the object of the outlaws had been haste rather 
than secrecy. The posse covered it swiftly and 
without hesitation. 

"Now, I wonder why this trail don't run straight 
south instead of bearing to the left into the hills. 
Looks like they're going to cache their stolen gold 
up in the mountains before they risk crossing into 
Sonora. They figure Bucky'll be on the lookout for 
them," the sheriff said to his deputy. 

"I believe you've guessed it, Val. Stands to rea- 
son they'll want to get rid of the loot soon as they 
can. Oh, hell!" 

Dillon's disgust proved justifiable, for the trail 
had lost itself in a mountain stream, up or down 
which the outlaws must have filed. A month later 
and the creek would have been dry. But it was 
still spring. The mountain rains had not ceased 
feeding the brook, and of this the outlaws had 
taken advantage to wipe out their trail. 

The sheriff looked anxiously at the sky. "It's 
fixin' to rain, Jim. Don't that beat the Dutch? If 
it does, that lets us out plenty." 

45 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The men they were after might have gone either 
upstream or down. It was impossible to know defi- 
nitely which, nor was there time to follow both. 
Already big drops of rain were splashing down. 

"We'll take a chance, and go up. They're proba- 
bly up in the hills somewhere right now," said Col- 
lins, with characteristic decision. 

He had guessed right. A mile farther upstream 
horses had clambered to the bank and struck deeper 
into the hills. But already rain was falling in a 
brisk shower. The posse had not gone another 
quarter of a mile before the trail was washed out. 
They were now in a rough and rocky country get- 
ting every minute steeper. 

"It's going to be like lookin' for a needle in a 
haystack, Val," Dillon growled. 

Collins nodded. "We ain't got one chance in a 
jmndred, Jim, but I reckon we'll take that chance." 

For three days they blundered around in the hills 
before they gave it up. The first night, about dusk, 
the pursuers were without knowing it so warm that 
one of the bandits lay with his rifle on a rock rim 
not a stone's throw above them as they wound 
through a little ravine. But Collins got no glimpse 
of the robbers. At last he reluctantly gave the word 
to turn back. Probably the men he wanted had al- 
ready slipped down to the plains and across to Mex- 
ico. If not, they might play hide and seek with him 
a month in the recesses of these unknown 
tains. 

46 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Next morning the sheriff struck a telephone wire, 
tapped it, got Sabin on the line, told him of his 
failure and that he was returning to Tucson. About 
the middle of the afternoon the dispirited posse 
reached its sidetracked special. 

A young man lay stretched full length on the 
loading board, with a broad-brimmed felt hat over 
his eyes. He wore a gray flannel shirt and cordu- 
roy trousers thrust into half-leg laced boots. At the 
sound of voices he turned lazily on his side and 
watched the members of the posse swing wearily 
from their saddles. An amiable smile, not wholly 
free of friendly derision, lit his good-looking face. 

"Oh, you sheriff," he drawled. 

Collins swung round, as if he had been pricked 
with a knife point. He stared an instant before he 
let out a shout of welcome and fell upon the youth. 

"Bucky, by thunder!" 

The latter got up nimbly in time to be hospitably 
thumped and punched. He was a lithe, slender 
young fellow, of medium height, and he carried 
himself lightly with that manner of sunburned com- 
petency given only by the rough-and-tumble life of 
the outdoors West. 

While the men reloaded the car he and the sheriff 
stood apart and talked in low tones. Collins told 
what he knew, both what he had seen and inferred, 
and Bucky heard him to the end. 

"Yes, it ce'tainly looks like one of Wolf Leroy's 
jobs," he agreed "Nobody else but Leroy would 

47 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



have had the nerve to follow you right up to the 
depot and put the kibosh on sending those wires. 
He's surely game from the toes up. Think of him 
sittin' there reading the newspaper half an hour after 
he held up the Limited !" 

"Did he do that, Bucky ?" The sheriff's tone con- 
ceded admiration. 

"He did. He's the only train robber ever in the 
business that could have done it. Oh, the Wolf's 
tracks are all over this job." 

"No doubt about that. I told you I recognized 
York Neil by him being shy that trigger finger I 
fanned off down at Tombstone. Well, they say he's 
one of the Wolf's standbys." 

"Yes. I warned him two months ago that if he 
didn't break away he'd die sudden. Somehow I 
couldn't persuade him he was an awful sick man 
right then. You saw four of these hold-ups in all, 
didn't you, Val?" 

"Four's right. First off Neil, then the fellow I 
took to be the Wolf. After he went out a bow- 
legged fellow came in, and last a slim little kid 
that was a sure enough amateur, the way his gun 
shook." 

"Any notion how many more there were ?" 

"I figured out two more. A big gazabo in a red 
wig held up Frost, the engineer. He knew it was a 
wig because he saw long black hair peeping out 
around his neck. Then there must 'a' been another 

48 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



in charge of blowing up the express car, a Mexican, 
from the description the messenger gives of him." 

Bucky nodded. "Looks like you got it figured 
about right, Val. The Mexican is easy to account 
for. The Wolf spends about half his time down in 
Chihuahua and trains with some high-class greasers 
down there. Well, we'll see what we'll see. I'll set 
my rangers at rounding up the border towns a bit, 
and if I don't start anything there I'll hike down 
into Mexico and see what's doing. I'll count on you 
to run the Arizona end of it while I'm away, Val. 
The Wolf's outfit is a pretty wild one, and it won't 
be long till something begins to howl. We'll keep 
an eye on the gambling hells and see who is burn- 
ing up money. Oh, they'll leave plenty of smoke 
behind them," the ranger concluded cheerfully. 

"There will be plenty of smoke if we ever do 
round 'em up, not to mention a heap of good lead 
that will be spilled/' the sheriff agreed placidly. 
"Well, all I got to say is the sooner the quicker. 
The bunch borrowed a mighty good .45 of mine I 
need in my biz. I kinder hanker to get it back muy 
pronto/' 

"Here's hoping/ 1 Bucky nodded gayly. "I bet 
there will be a right lively wolf hunt. Hello! The 
car's loaded. All aboard for Tucson." 

The special drew out from the side track and 
gathered speed. Soon the rhythmic chant of the 
rails sounded monotonously, and the plains on either 
side of the track swam swiftly to the rear. 

49 



CHAPTER IV. 

A BLUFF IS CALLED. 

Torpid lay Aravaipa in a coma of sunbeat. Its 
adobe-lined streets basked in the white glare of an 
Arizona spring at midday. One or two Papago In- 
dians, with their pottery wares, squatted in the shade 
of the buildings, but otherwise the plaza was de- 
serted. Not even a moving dog or a lounging peon 
lent life to the drowsy square. Silence profound 
and peace eternal seemed to brood over the land. 

Such was the impression borne in upon the young 
man riding townward on a wiry buckskin that had 
just topped the rise which commanded the valley be- 
low. The rider presented a striking enough appear- 
ance to take and hold the roving eye of any young 
woman in search of romance. He was a slender, 
lithe young Adonis of medium height. His hair and 
eyebrows left one doubtful whether to pronounce 
them black or brown, but the eyes called for an im- 
mediate verdict of Irish blue. Every inch of him 
spoke of competency promised mastership of any 
situation likely to arise. But when the last word 
is said it was the eyes that dominated the person- 
ality. They could run the whole gamut of emo- 
tions, or they could be impervious as a stone wall. 
Now they were deep and innocent as a girl's, now 

50 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



they rollicked with the buoyant youth in them. Com- 
rades might see them bubbling with fun, and the 
next moment enemies find them opaque as a leaden 
sky. Not the least wonder of them was that they 
looked out from under long lashes, soft enough for 
any maiden, at a world they appraised with the 
shrewdness of a veteran. 

The young man drew rein above the valley, sit- 
ting his horse in the easy, negligent fashion of one 
that lives in the saddle. A thumb was hitched care- 
lessly in the front pocket of his chaps, which 
pocket served also as a holster for the .45 that pro- 
truded. 

Even in the moment that he sat there a change 
came over Aravaipa. As a summer shower sweeps 
across a lake so something had ruffled the town to 
sudden life. From stores and saloons men drib- 
bled, converging toward a common centre hurriedly. 

"I reckon, Bucky, the band has begun to play," 
the rider told himself aloud. "Mebbe we better 
move on down in time for the music." 

But no half-expected revolver shots shattered the 
stillness, even though interest did not abate. 

"There's ce'tainly something doing at the Silver ( 
Dollar this glad mo'ning. Chinks, greasers, and se- 
vereal other kinds of citizens driftin' that way, not 
to mention white men. I expect there will be room 
for you, Bucky, if you hurry before the seats are all 
sold out." 

He cantered down the plaza, swung from the sad- 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



die, threw the rein over the pony's head to the 
ground, and jingled across the sidewalk into the 
gambling house. It was filled with a motley crowd 
of miners, vaqueros, tourists, cattlemen, Mexicans, 
Chinese, and a sample of the rest of the heterogene- 
ous population of the Southwest. Behind this as- 
semblage the newcomer tiptoed in vain to catch a 
glimpse of the cause of the excitement. Wherefore, 
he calmly removed an almond-eyed Oriental from a 
chair on which he was standing, tipped the ex-Can- 
tonese a half dollar, and appropriated the point of 
vantage himself. 

There was a cleared space in the corner by the 
roulette table, and here, his chair tipped back against 
the wall and a glass of whisky in front of him, sat 
a sufficiently strange specimen of humanity. He 
was a man of about fifty years, large boned and 
gaunt. Dressed in fringed buckskin trousers and 
a silver-laced Mexican sombrero, he affected the long 
hair, the sweeping mustache, and the ferocious as- 
pect that are the custom of the pseudo-Westerners 
who do business in the East with fake medical reme- 
dies. Around his waist was a belt garnished with 
knives by the dozen. These were long and pointed, 
sharpened to a razor edge. One of them was in his 
hand poised for a throw at the instant Bucky 
mounted the chair and looked over the densely 
packed mass of heads in front of him. 

The ranger's keen glance swept to the wall and 
took in the target. A slim lad of about fifteen stood 

52 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



against it with his arms outstretched. Above and 
below each hand and on either side of the swelling 
throat knives quivered in the frame wall. There 
was a flash of steel, and the seventh knife sank into 
the wood so close to the crisp curls that a lock 
hung by a hair, almost completely severed by the 
blade. The boy choked back a scream, his big 
brown eyes dilating with terror. 

The bully sipped at his highball and deliberately 
selected another knife. To Bucky's swift inspection 
it was plain he had drunk too much and that a 
very little slip might make an end of the boy. The 
fascinated horror in the lad's gaze showed that he 
realized his danger. 

"Now, f'ler cit'zens, I will continue for your 
'musement by puttin' next two knives on right and 
lef sides of his cheek. Observe, pleash, that these 
will land lesh than an inch from hish eyes. As the 

champion knife thrower in the universh I claim 



What he claimed his audience had to guess, for at 
this instant another person took a part in the act. 
Bucky had stepped lightly across the intervening 
space on the shoulders of the tightly packed crowd 
and had dropped as lightly to the ground in front 
of the astonished champion of the universe. 

"I reckon you've about wore out that target. 
What's the matter with trying a brand new one?" 
drawled the ranger, his quiet, unwavering eye fixed 

53 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



on the bloated, mottled face of the imitation "bad 
man/' 

The bully, half seas over, leaned forward and 
gripped his knife. He was sober enough to catch 
the jeer running through the other's words without 
being sufficiently master of himself to appreciate 
the menace that underlay them. 

"Wha's that? Say that again!" he burst out, 
purple to the collar line. He was not used to hav- 
ing beardless boys with long, soft eyelashes inter- 
fering with his amusements, and a blind rage 
flooded his heart. 

"I allowed that a change of targets would vary 
the entertainment, if you haven't any objections, 
seh," the blue-eyed stranger explained mildly. 

"Who is this kid?" demanded the bully, with a 
sweep of his arm toward the intruder. 

Nobody seemed to know, wherefore the ranger 
himself gave the information mildly: 

"Bucky O'Connor they call me." 

A faint murmur of surprise soughed through 
the crowd, for Bucky O'Connor of the Arizona 
Rangers was by way of being a public hero just 
now on account of his capture of Fernendez, the 
stage robber. But the knife thrower had but lately 
arrived in the country. The youth carried with him 
none of the earmarks of his trade, unless it might 
be that quiet, steady gaze that seemed to search the 
soul. His voice was soft and drawling, his manner 
almost apologetic. In the smile that came and went 

54 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



was something sweet and sunny, in his bearing a 
gay charm that did not advertise the recklessness 
that bubbled from his daredevil spirit. Surely here 
was an easy victim upon whom to vent his spleen, 
thought the other in his growing passion. 

"You want to be my target, do you?'* he de- 
manded, tugging ferociously at his long mustache. 

"If you please, seh." 

The fellow swore a vile oath. "Just as you say. 
Line up beside the other kid." 

With three strides Bucky reached the wall, and 
turned. 

"Let 'er go," his gentle voice murmured. 

He was leaning back easily against the wall, his 
thumb hitched carelessly in the revolver pocket of 
his worn leather chaps. He looked at ease, every 
jaunty inch of him, but a big bronzed cattleman 
who had just pushed his way in noticed that the 
frosty blue eyes never released for an instant those 
of the enemy. 

The bully at the table passed an uncertain hand 
over his face to clear his blurred vision, poised the 
cruel blade in his hand, and sent it flashing for- 
ward with incredible swiftness. The steel buried 
itself two inches deep in the soft pine beside Bucky's 
head. So close had it shaved him that a drop of 
blood gathered and dropped from his ear to the 
floor. 

"Good shot," commented the ranger quietly, and 
on the instant his revolver seemed to leap from its 

55 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



holster to his hand. Without raising or moving his 
arm in the least, Bucky fired. 

Again a murmur eddied through the crowd. The 
bullet had neatly bored the bully's ear. He raised 
his hand in dazed fashion and brought it away 
covered with blood. With staring eyes he looked at 
his moist red fingers, then at his latest victim, who 
was proving such an unexpected surprise. 

The big cattleman, who by this time had pushed 
a way with his broad shoulders to the front, ob- 
served the two men attentively with a derisive smile 
on his frank face. He was seeing a bluff called, 
and he enjoyed it. 

"You'll be able to wear earrings, Mr. Champion 
of the Universe, after I have ventilated the other," 
suggested the ranger affably. "Come again, seh." 

But his opponent had had enough, and more than 
enough. It was one thing to browbeat a harmless 
boy, quite another to measure courage with a young 
gamecock like this. He had all the advantage of the 
first move. He was an expert and could drive his 
first throw into the youth's heart. But at bottom he 
was a coward and lacked the nerve, if not the in- 
clination, to kill. If he took up that devil-may-care 
challenge he must fight it out alone. Moreover, as 
his furtive glance went round the ring of faces, he 
doubted whether a rope and the nearest telegraph 
pole might not be his fate if he went the limit. 
Sourly he accepted defeat, raging in his craven spirit 
at the necessity. 

56 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Hell ! I don't fight with boys," he snarled. 

"So?" 

Bucky moved forward with the curious lightness 
of a man spring- footed. His gaze held the other's 
shifting eyes as he plucked the knife from his oppo- 
nent's hand. 

"Unbuckle that belt," he ordered. 

All said, the eye is a prince of weapons. It is a 
moral force more potent than the physical, and by it 
men may measure strength to a certainty. So now 
these two clinched and battled with it till the best 
man won. The showman's look gave way before 
the stark courage of the other. His was no match 
for the inscrutable, unwavering eye that commanded 
him. His fingers began to twitch, edged slowly to- 
ward his waist. For an instant they fumbled at the 
buckle of the belt, which presently fell with a rattle 
to the floor. 

"Now, roll yore trail to the wall. Face this way! 
Arms out ! That's good ! You rest there comfort- 
able while I take these pins down and let the kid 
out." 

He removed the knives that hemmed in the boy 
and supported the half- fainting figure to a chair be- 
side the roulette table. But always he remained in 
such a position as to keep the big bully he was bait- 
ing in view. The boy dropped into the chair and 
covered his face with his hands, sobbing with deep, 
broken breaths. The ranger touched caressingly 

57 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



the crisp, fair hair that covered the head in short 
carls. 

"Don't you worry, bub. Now, don't you. It's 
all over with now. That coyote won't pester you 
any more. Will you, Mr. False Alarm Bad Man ?" 

At the last words he wheeled suddenly to the 
showman. "You're right sorry already you got so 
gay, ain't you? Come! Speak yore little piece, 
please." 

He waited for an answer, and his gaze held fast 
to the bloated face that cringed before his attack. 

"What's your name?" 

"Jay Hardman," quavered the now thoroughly so- 
bered bad man. 

"Dead easy jay, I reckon you mean. Now, chirp 
up and tell the boy how sorry you are you got fresh 
with your hardware." 

"He's my boy. I guess I can do what I like with 
him," the man burst out angrily. "I wasn't hurting 
him any, either. That's part of our show, to " 

Bucky fondled suggestively the revolver in his 
hand. A metallic click came to his victim. 

"Don't you shoot at me again," the man broke off 
to scream. 

The Colt clipped the sentence and the man's other 
ear. 

"You can put in your order now for them ear- 
rings we were mentioning Mr. Deadeasy. You see, 
I had to puncture this one so folks would know they 
were mates." 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I'll put you in the pen for this," the fellow 
whined, in terror. 

"Funny how you will get off the subject. We 
were discussin' an apology when you got to wan- 
dering in yore haid." 

The mottled face showed white in patches. Beads 
of perspiration stood out on the forehead of Hard- 
man. "I didn't aim to hurt him any. I'll be right 
glad to explain to you " 

A bullet plowed a path through the long hair that 
fell to the showman's shoulders and snipped a lock 
from it. 

"You don't need to explain a thing to me, seh. 
I'm sure resting easy in my mind. But as you were 
about to re-mark you're fair honin' for a chance to 
ask the kid's pardon. Now, ain't I a mind reader, 
seh?" 

A trembling voice stammered huskily an apology. 

"Better late than too late. Now, I've a good 
mind to take a vote whether I'd better unload the 
rest of the pills in this old reliable medicine box at 
you. Mebbe I ought to pump one into that coyote 
heart of yours." 

The fellow went livid. "My God, you wouldn't 
kill an unarmed man, would you?" 

For answer the ranger tossed the weapon on the 
table with a scornful laugh and strode up to the 
other. The would-be bad man towered six inches 
above him, and weighed half as much again. But 

59 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



O'Connor whirled him round, propelled him for- 
ward to the door, and kicked him into the street. 

"I'd hate to waste a funeral on him" he said, as 
he sauntered back to the boy at the table. 

The lad was beginning to recover, though his 
breath still came with a catch. His rag of a hand- 
kerchief was dabbing tears out of his eyes. O'Con- 
nor noticed how soft his hands and how delicate his 
features. 

"This kid ain't got any more business than a rab- 
bit going around in the show line with that big 
scoundrel. He's one of these gentle, rock-me-to- 
sleep-mother kids that ought to stay in the home nest 
and not go buttin' into this hard world. I'll bet a 
doughnut he's an orphan, though." 

Bucky had been brought up in the school of ex- 
perience, where every student keeps his own head or 
goes to the wall. All his short life he had played 
a lone hand, as he would have phrased it. He had 
campaigned in Cuba as a mere boy. He had rid- 
den the range and held his own on the hurricane 
deck of a bucking broncho. From cowpunching he 
had graduated into the tough little body of terri- 
torial rangers at the head of which was "Hurry Up"\ 
Millikan. This had brought him a large and turbu- 
lent experience in the knack of taking care of him- 
self under all circumstances. Naturally, a man of 
this type, born and bred to the code of the outdoors 
West, could not fail of a certain contempt for a 

60 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



boy that broke down and cried when the game was 
going against him. 

But Bucky's contempt was tolerant, after all. He 
could not deny his sympathy to a youngster in 
trouble. Again he touched gently the lad's crisp 
curls of burnished gold. 

"Brace up, bub. The worst is yet to come," he 
laughed awkwardly. "I reckon there's no use spill- 
in' any more emotion over it. He ain't your dad, 
is he?" 

The lad's big brown eyes looked up into the 
serene blue ones and found comfort in their 
strength. "No, he's my uncle and my master." 

"This is a free country, son. We don't have mas- 
ters if we're good Americans, though we all have 
to take orders from our superior officers. You don't 
need to serve this fellow unless you want to. That's 
a cinch." 

The boy's troubled eyes were filmed with reminis- 
cent terror. "You don't know him. He is terrible 
when he is angry," he murmured. 

"I don't think it," returned Bucky contemptu- 
ously. "He's the worst blowhard ever. Say the 
word and I'll run the piker out of town for you." 

The boy whipped up the sleeve of the fancy Mex- 
ican jacket he wore and showed a long scar on his 
arm. "He did that one day when he was angry at 
me. He pretended to others that it was an acci- 
dent, but I knew better. This morning I begged 
him to let me leave him. He beat me, but he was 

61 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



still mad; and when he took to drinking I was afraid 
he would work himself up to stick me again with 
one of his knives." 

Bucky looked at the scar in the soft, rounded 
arm and swept the boy with a sudden puzzled glance 
that was not suspicion but wonder. 

"How long have you been with him, kid?" 

"Oh, for years. Ever since I was a little fel- 
low. He took me after my father and mother died 
of yellow fever in New Orleans. His wife hates 
me too, but they have to have me in the show." 

"Then I guess you had better quit their company. 
What's your name?" 

"Frank Hardman. On the show bills I have all 
sorts of names." 

"Well, Frank, how would you like to go to live 
on a ranch?" 

"Where he wouldn't know I was ?" whispered the 
boy eagerly. 

"If you like. I know a ranch where you'd be 
right welcome." 

"I would work. I would do anything I could. 
Really, I would try to pay my way, and I don't eat 
much," Frank cried, his eyes as appealing as a 
homeless puppy's. 

Bucky smiled. "I expect they can stand all you 
eat without going to the poorhouse. It's a bargain 
then. I'll take you out there to-morrow." 

"You're so good to me. I never had anybody be 
62 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



so good before." Tears stood in the big eyes and 
splashed over. 

"Cut out the water works, kid. You want to 
take a brace and act like a man," advised his new 
friend brusquely. 

"I know. I know. If you knew what I have 
done maybe you wouldn't ask me to go with you. 
I I can't tell you anything more than that," the 
youngster sobbed. 

"Oh, well. What's the diff? You're making a 
new start to-day. Ain't that right?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Call me Bucky." 

"Yes, sir. Bucky, I mean." 

A hand fell on the ranger's shoulder and a voice 
in his ear. "Young man, I want you." 

The lieutenant whirled like a streak of lightning, 
finger on trigger already. "I'll trouble you for yore 
warrant, seh," he retorted. 

The man confronting him was the big cattleman 
who had entered the Silver Dollar in time to see 
O'Connor's victory over the showman. Now he 
stood serenely under Bucky's gun and laughed. 

"Put up your .45, my friend. It's a peaceable 
conference I want with you." 

The level eyes of the young man fastened on those 
of the cattleman, and, before he spoke again, were 
satisfied. For both of these men belonged to the 
old West whose word is as good as its bond, that 
West which will go the limit for a cause once under- 

63 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



taken without any thought of retreat, regardless of 
the odds or the letter of the law. Though they 
had never met before, each knew at a glance the 
manner of man the other was. 

"All right, seh. If you want me I reckon I'm here 
large as life," the ranger said. 

"We'll adjourn to the poker room upstairs then, 
Mr. O'Connor." 

Bucky laid a hand on the shoulder of the boy. 
"This kid goes with me. I'm keeping an eye on 
him for the present." 

"My business is private, but I expect that can be 
arranged. We'll take the inner room and let him 
have the outer." 

"Good enough. Break trail, seh. Come along, 
Frank." 

Having reached the poker room upstairs, that 
same private room which had seen many a big game 
in its day between the big cattle kings and mining 
rmen of the Southwest, Bucky's host ordered refresh- 
ments and then unfolded his business. 

"You don't know me, lieutenant, do you?" 

"I haven't that pleasure, seh." 

"I am Major Mackenzie's brother." 

"Webb Mackenzie, who came from Texas last 
year and bought the Rocking Chair Ranch?" 

"The same." 

"I'm right glad to meet you, seh." 

"And I can say the same." 

Webb Mackenzie was so distinctively a product 

64 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



of the West that no other segment of the globe 
could have produced him. Big, raw-boned, tanned 
to a leathery brick-brown, he was as much of the 
frontier as the ten thousand cows he owned that ran 
the range on half as many hills and draws. He 
stood six feet two and tipped the beam at two hun- 
dred twelve pounds, not an ounce of which was 
superfluous flesh. Temperamentally, he was frank, 
imperious, free-hearted, what men call a prince. He 
wore a loose tailor-made suit of brown stuff and a 
broad-brimmed light-gray Stetson. For the rest, 
you may see a hundred like him at the yearly stock 
convention held in Denver, but you will never meet 
a man even among them with a sounder heart or 
better disposition. 

"I've got a story to tell you, Lieutenant O'Con- 
nor," he began. "I've been meaning to see you and 
tell it ever since you made good in that Fernendez 
matter. It wasn't your gameness. Anybody can 
be game. But it looked to me like you were using 
the brains in the top of your head, and that happens 
so seldom among law officers I wanted to have a 
talk with you. Since yesterday I've been more anx- 
ious. For why? I got a letter from my brother 
telling me Sheriff Collins showed him a locket he 
found at the place of the T. P. Limited hold-up. 
That locket has in it a photograph of my wife and 
little girl. For fifteen years I haven't seen that 
picture. When I saw it last 'twas round my little 

65 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



baby's neck. What's more, I haven't seen her in 
that time, either." 

Mackenzie stopped, swallowed hard, and took a 
drink of water. 

"You haven't seen your little girl in fifteen years," 
'exclaimed Bucky. 

"Haven't seen or heard of her. So far as I 
know she may not be alive now. This locket is 
the first hint I have had since she was taken away, 
the very first news of her that has reached me, and 
I don't know what to make of that. One of the 
robbers must have been wearing it, the way I figure 
it out. Where did he get it? That's what I want 
to know." 

"Suppose you tell me the story, seh," suggested 
the ranger gently. 

The cattleman offered O'Connor a cigar and lit 
one himself. For a minute he puffed slowly at his 
Havana, leaning far back in his chair with eyes 
reminiscent and half shut. Then he shook himself 
back into the present and began his tale. 
* "I don't reckon you ever heard tell of Dave Hen- 
derson. It was back in Texas I knew him, and he's 
been missing sixteen years come the eleventh of next 
August. For fifteen years I haven't mentioned his 
name, because Dave did me the dirtiest wrong that 
one man ever did another. Back in the old days 
he and I used to trail together. We was awful 
thick, and mostly hunted in couples. We began 
riding the same season back on the old Kittredge 

66 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Ranch, and we went in together for all the kinds 
of spreeing that young fellows who are footloose 
are likely to do. Fact is, we suited each other from 
the ground up. We frolicked round a-plenty, like 
young colts will, and there was nothing on this 
green earth Dave could have asked from me that 
I wouldn't have done for him. Nothing except one, 
I reckon, and Dave never asked that of me." 

Mackenzie puffed at his cigar a silent moment be- 
fore resuming. "It happened we both fell in love 
with the same girl, little Frances Clark, of the 
Double T Ranch. Dave was a better looker than 
me and a more taking fellow, but somehow Frances 
favored me from the start. Dave stayed till the 
finish, and when he seen he had lost he stood up 
with me at the wedding. We had agreed, you see, 
that whoever won it wasn't to break up our friend- 
ship. 

"Well, Frankie and I were married, and in course 
of time we had two children. My boy, Tom, is the 
older. The other was a little girl, named after her 
mother." The cattleman waited a moment to steady 
his voice, and spoke through teeth set deep in his 
Havana. "I haven't seen her, as I said, since she 
was two years and ten months old not since the 
night Dave disappeared." 

Bucky looked up quickly with a question on his 
lips, but he did not need to word it. 

Mackenzie nodded. "Yes, Dave took her with 
him when he lit out across the line for Mexico. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



But I'll have to go back to something that hap- 
pened earlier. About three months before this time 
Dave and me were riding through a cut in the Sierra 
Diablo Mountains, when we came on a Mexican 
who had been wounded by the Apaches. I reckon 
we had come along just in time to scare them off 
before they finished him. We did our best for 
him, but he died in about two hours. Before dying, 
he made us a present of a map we found in his 
breast pocket. It showed the location of a very 
rich mine he had found, and as he had no near kin 
he turned it over to us to do with as we pleased. 

"Just then the round-up came on, and we were 
too busy to pay much attention to the mine. Each 
of us would have trusted the other with his life, or 
so I thought. But we cut the paper in half, each of 
us keeping one part, in order that nobody else could 
steal the secret from the one that held the paper. 
The last time I had been in El Paso I had bought 
my little girl a gold chain with two lockets pendent. 
These lockets opened by a secret spring, and in one 
of them I put my half of the map. It seemed as 
safe a place as I could devise, for the chain never 
left the child's neck, and nobody except her mother, 
Dave, and I knew that it was placed there. Dave 
hid his half under a rock that was known to both 
of us. The strange thing about the story is that 
my false friend, in the hurry of his flight, forgot to 
take his section of the map with him. I found it 
under the rock next day, so that his vile treachery 

68 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



availed him nothing from a mercenary point of 
view." 

"Didn't take his half of the map with him? 
That's right funny," Bucky mused aloud. 

"We never could understand why he didn't." 

"Mebbe if you understood that a heap of things 
might be clear that are dark now." 

"Mebbe. Knowing Dave Henderson as I did, or, 
rather, as I thought I did, such treachery as his was 
almost unbelievable. He was the sweetest, sunniest 
soul I ever knew, and no two brothers could have 
been as fond of each other as we seemed to be. 
But there was no chance of mistake. He had 
gone, and taken our child with him, likely in ac- 
cordance with a plan of revenge long cherished by 
him. We never heard of him or the child again. 
They disappeared as completely as if the earth had 
swallowed them up. Our cook, too, left with him 
that evil night." 

"Your cook?" It was the second comment Bucky 
had ventured, and it came incisively. "What man- 
ner of man was he?" 

"A huge, lumbering braggart. I could never un- 
derstand why Dave took the man with him." 

"If he did." 

"But I tell you he did. They disappeared the 
same night, and the trail showed they went the 
same road. We followed them for about an hour 
next day, but a heavy rain came up and blotted out 
the tracks." 

69 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



' "What was the cook's name?" 

"Jeff Anderson." 

"Have you a picture of him, or one of your 
friend?" 

"Back at the ranch I had pictures of Dave, but 
I burned them after he left. Yes, I reckon we have 
one of Anderson, standing in front of the chuck 
wagon." 

"Send it to me, please." 

"All right." 

The ranger asked a few questions that made 
clearer the situation on the day of the kidnaping, 
and some more concerning Anderson, then fell again 
into the role of a listener while Mackenzie concluded 
his story. 

'All these years I have kept my eyes open, con- 
fident that at last I would discover something that 
would help me to discover the whereabouts of my 
child, or, at least, give me a chance to punish the 
scoundrel who betrayed my confidence. Yesterday 
my brother's letter gave the first clue we have had. 
I want that lead worked. Ferret this thing out to 
k the bottom, lieutenant. Get me something definite 
.to go on. That's what I want you to do. Run the 
thing to earth, get at the facts, and find my child 
for me. I'll give you carte blanche up to a hundred 
thousand dollars. All I ask of you is to make 
good. Find the little girl, or else bring me face to 
face with that villain Henderson. Can you do it?" 

O'Connor was strangely interested in this story 
70 



BUCKY O'CONuOk 



of treachery and mystery. He rose with shining 
eyes and held out his hand. "I don't know, seh, 
but I'll try damned hard to do three things: find 
out what has become of the little girl, of Dave 
Henderson, and of the scoundrel who stole your 
baby because he thought the map was in the locket." 

"You mean that you don't think Dave " 

"That is exactly what I mean. Your cook, An- 
derson, kidnaped the child, looks like to me. I saw 
that locket Collins found. My guess was that the 
marks on the end of the chain were deep teeth 
marks. The man that stole your baby tried first 
to cut the chain with his teeth so as to steal the 
chain. You see, he could not find the clasp in the 
dark. Then the child wakened and began to cry. 
He clapped a hand over its mouth and carried the 
little girl out of the room. Then he heard some- 
body moving about, lost his nerve, and jumped on 
the horse that was waiting, saddled, at the door. 
He took the child along simply because he had to in 
order to get the chain and the secret he thought it 
held." 

"Perhaps; but that does not prove it was not 
Dave." 

"It's contributory evidence, seh. Your friend 
could have slipped the chain from her neck any day, 
or he could have opened the locket and taken the 
map. No need for him to steal in at night. Do 
you happen to remember whether your little girl 
had any particular aversion to the cook?" 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The cattleman's forehead frowned in thought. "I 
do remember, now, that she was afraid of him. She 
always ran screaming to her mother when he tried 
to be friendly with her. He was a sour sort of 
fellow/' 

"That helps out the case a heap, for it shows that 
' *ie wanted to make friends with her and she re- 
fused. He was thus forced to take the chain when 
she was asleep instead of playing with her till he 
had discovered the spring and could simply take the 
map." 

"But he didn't know anything about the map. He 
was not in our confidence." 

"You and your friend talked it over evenings 
when he was at the ranch, and other places, too, I 
expect." 

"Yes, our talk kind of gravitated that way when- 
ever we got together." 

"Well, this fellow overheard you. That's prob- 
able, at least." 

"But you're ignoring the important fact. Dave 
disappeared too that night, with my little girl." 

Bucky cut in sharply with a question. "Did he ? 
, How do you know he disappeared with her ? Why 
, not after f That's the theory my mind is groping on 
just now." 

"That's a blind trail to me. Why after? And 
what difference does it make?" 

"All the difference in the world. If he left after 
72 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



the cook, you have been doing him an injustice for 
fifteen years, seh." 

Mackenzie leaned forward, excitement burning 
in his eyes. 'Trove that, young man, and I'll thank 
you to the last day of my life. It's for my wife's 
sake more than my own I want my little girl back. 
She jes' pines for her every day of her life. But 
for my friend if you can give me back the clean 
memory of Dave you'll have done a big thing for 
me, Mr. O'Connor." 

"It's only a working theory, but this is what I'm 
getting at. You and Henderson had arranged to 
take an early start on a two days' deer hunt next 
mo'ning. That's what you told me, isn't it?" 

"We were to start about four. Yes, sir." 

"Well, let's suppose a case. Along comes Dave 
before daybreak, when the first hooters were begin- 
ning to call. Just as he reaches your ranch he no- 
tices a horse slipping away in the darkness. Per- 
haps he hears the little girl cry out. Anyhow, in- 
stead of turning in at the gate, he decides to follow. 
Probably he isn't sure there's anything wrong, but 
when he finds out how the horse he's after is burn- 
ing the wind his suspicions grow stronger. He set- 
tles down to a long chase. In the darkness, we'll 
say, he loses his man, but when it gets lighter he 
picks up the trail again. The tracks lead south, 
across the line into Mexico. Still he keeps plodding 
on. The man in front sees him behind and gets 
scared because he can't shake him off. Very likelj 

73 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



he thinks it is you on his track. Anyhow, while the 
child is asleep he waits in ambush, and when Hen- 
derson rides up he shoots him down. Then he 
pushes on deeper into Chihuahua, and proceeds to 
lose himself there by changing his name." 

"You think he murdered Dave ?" The cattleman 
got up and began to pace up and down the floor. 

"I think it possible." 

Webb Mackenzie's face was pallid, but there was 
a new light of hope in it. "I believe you're right. 
God knows I hope so. That may sound a horrible 
thing to say of my best friend, but if it has got to 
be one or the other if it is certain that my old 
bunkie came to his death foully in Chihuahua while 
trying to save my baby, or is alive to-day, a skulk- 
ing coward and villain with all my heart I hope he 
is dead." He spoke with a passionate intensity 
which showed how much he had cared for his early 
friend, and how much the latter's apparent treachery 
had cut him. "I hope you'll never have a friend go 
back on you, Mr. O'Connor, the one friend you 
would have banked on to a finish. Why, Dave 
Henderson saved my life from a bunch of Apaches 
once when it was dollars to doughnuts he would lose 
his own if he tried it. We were prospecting in the 
Galiuros together, and one mo'ning when he went 
down to the creek to water the hawsses he sighted 
three of the red devils edging up toward the cabin. 
There might have been fifty of them there for all 

74 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



he knew, and he had a clear run to the plains if he 
wanted to back one of the ponies and take it. Most 
any man would have saved his own skin, but not 
Dave. He hoofed it back to the cabin, under fire 
every foot of the way, and together we made it 
so hot for them that they finally gave up getting us. 
We were in the Texas Rangers together, and pulled 
each other through a lot of close places. And 

then at the end Why, it hurt me more than it 

did losing my own little girl." 

Bucky nodded. Since he was a man and not a 
father, he could understand how the hurt would 
rankle year after year at the defalcation of his com- 
rade. 

"That's another kink we have got to unravel in 
this tangle. First off, there's your little girl, to find 
if she is still alive. Second, we must locate Dave 
Henderson or his grave. Third, there's something 
due the scoundrel who is responsible for this. 
Fourthly, brethren, there's that map section to find. 
And lastly, we've got to find just how this story 
you've told me got mixed with the story of the hold- 
up of the Limited. For it ce'tainly looks as if the 
two hang together. I take it that the thing to do is 
to run down the gang that held up the Limited. 
Once we do that, we ought to find the key to the 
mystery of your little girl's disappearance. Or, at 
least, there is a chance we shall. And it's chances 
we've got to gamble on in this thing." 

75 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Good enough. I like the way you go at this. 
Already I feel a heap better than I did." 

"If the cards fall our way you're going to get this 
thing settled once for all. I can't promise my news 
will be good news when I get it, but anything will 
be better than the uncertainty you've been in, I take 
it," said Bucky, rising from his chair. 

"You're right there. But, wait a moment. Let's 
drink to your success." 

"I'm not much of a sport," Bucky smiled. "Fact 
is, I never drink, seh." 

"Of course. I remember, now. You're the good 
bad man of the West," Mackenzie answered amia- 
bly. "Well, I drink to you. Here's good hunting, 
lieutenant." 

"Thank you." 

"I suppose you'll get right at this thing?" 

"I've got to take that kid in the next room out 
to my ranch first. I won't stand for that knife 
thrower making a slave of him." 

"What's the matter with me taking the boy out 
to the Rocking Chair with me? My wife and I will 
see he's looked after till you return." 

"That would be the best plan, if it won't trouble 
you too much. We'd better keep his whereabouts 
quiet till this fellow Hardman is out of the coun- 
try." 

"Yes, though I hardly think he'd be fool enough 
to show up at the Rocking Chair. If my vaqueros 
met up with him prowling around they might show 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



him as warm a welcome as you did half an hour 
ago." 

"A chapping would sure do him a heap of good," 
grinned Bucky, and so dismissed the Champion of 
the World from his mind. 



77 



CHAPTER V. 

BUCKY ENTERTAINS. 

Bucky began at once to tap the underground wires 
his official position made accessible to him. These 
ran over Southern Arizona, Sonora, and Chihuahua. 
All the places to which criminals or frontiersmen 
with money were wont to resort were reported 
upon. For the ranger's experience had taught him 
that since the men he wanted had money in their 
pockets to burn gregarious impulse would drive 
them from the far silent places of the desert to the 
roulette and faro tables where the wolf and the lamb 
disport themselves together. 

The photograph from Webb Mackenzie of the 
cook Anderson reached him at Tucson the third 
day after his interview with that gentleman, at the 
same time that Collins dropped in on him to in- 
quire what progress he was making. 

O'Connor told him of the Aravaipa episode, and 
tossed across the table to him the photograph he had 
just received. 

"If we could discover the gent that sat for this 
photo it might help us. You don't by any chance 
know him, do you, Val?" 

The sheriff shook his head. "Not in my rogues' 
gallery, Bucky." 

78 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The ranger again examined the faded picture. 
A resemblance in it to somebody he had met recently 
haunted vaguely his memory. As he looked the in- 
definite suggestion grew sharp and clear. It was a 
I photograph of the showman who had called him- 
1 self Hardman. All the trimmings were lacking, to 
be sure the fierce mustache, the long hair, the buck- 
' skin trappings, none of them were here. But be- 
yond a doubt it was the same shifty-eyed villain. 
Nor did it shake Bucky's confidence that Mackenzie 
had seen him and failed to recognize the man as his 
old cook. The fellow was thoroughly disguised, 
but the camera had happened to catch that curious 
furtive glance of his. But for that O'Connor would 
never have known the two to be the same. 

Bucky was at the telephone half an hour. In the 
middle of the next afternoon his reward came in the 
form of a Western Union billet. It read: 

"Eastern man says you don't want what is sala- 
ble here." 

The lieutenant cut out every other word and gar- 
nered the wheat of the message: 

"Man you want is here." 

The telegram was marked from Epitaph, and for 
that town the ranger and the sheriff entrained imme- 
diately. 

Bucky's eye searched in vain the platform of the 
Epitaph depot for Malloy, of the Rangers, whose 
wire had brought him here. The cause of the lat- 

79 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



ter's absence was soon made clear to him in a note 
he found waiting for him at the hotel : 

"The old man has just sent me out on hurry-up 
orders. Don't know when I'll get back. Suggest 
you take in the show at the opera house to-night to 
pass the time." 

It was the last sentence that caught Bucky's at- 
tention. Jim Malloy had not written it except for 
a reason. Wherefore the lieutenant purchased two 
tickets for the performance far back in the house. 
From the local newspaper he gathered that the 
showman was henceforth to be a resident of Epi- 
taph. Mr. Jay Hardman, or Signer Raffaello Cav- 
ellado, as he was known the world over by countless 
thousands whom he had entertained, had purchased 
a corral and livery stable at the corner of Main and 
Boothill Streets and solicited the patronage of the 
citizens of Hualpai County. That was the purport 
of the announcement which Bucky ringed with a 
pencil and handed to his friend. 

That evening Signor Raffaello Cavellado made a 
great hit with his audience. He swaggered through 
his act magnificently, and held his spectators breath- 
less. Bucky took care to see that a post and the 
sheriff's big body obscured him from view during 
the performance. 

After it was over O'Connor and the sheriff re- 
turned to the hotel, where also Hardman was for 
the present staying, and sent word up to his room 
that one of the audience who had admired very much 

80 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



the artistic performance would like the pleasure of 
drinking a glass of wine with Signer Cavellado if 
the latter would favor him with his company in 
room seven. The Signer was graciously pleased 
to accept, and followed his message of acceptance 
in person a few minutes later. 

Bucky remained quietly in the corner of the room 
back of the door until the showman had entered, 
and while the latter was meeting Collins he silently 
locked the door and pocketed the key. 

The sheriff acknowledged Hardman's condescen- 
sion brusquely and without shaking hands. "Glad 
to meet you, seh. But you're mistaken in one thing. 
I'm not your host. This gentleman behind you is." 

The man turned and saw Bucky, who was stand- 
ing with his back against the door, a bland smile 
on his face. 

"Yes, seh. I'm your host to-night. Sheriff 
Collins, hyer, is another guest. I'm glad to have 
the pleasure of entertaining you, Signer Raffaello 
Cavellado," Bucky assured him, in his slow, gentle 
drawl, without reassuring him at all. 

For the fellow was plainly disconcerted at recog- 
nition of his host. He turned with a show of firm- 
ness to Collins. "If you're a sheriff, I demand to 
have that door opened at once," he blustered. 

Val put his hands in his pockets and tipped back 
his chair. "I ain't sheriff of Hualpai County. My 
jurisdiction don't extend here," he said calmly. 

'Tm an unarmed man," pleaded Cavellado. 
81 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Come to think of it, so am I." 

"I reckon I'm holding all the aces, Signer Cavel- 
lado," explained the ranger affably. "Or do you 
prefer in private life to be addressed as Hardman- . 
or, say, Anderson?" 

The showman moistened his lips and offered his 
tormentor a blanched face. 

"Anderson a good plain name. I wonder, now, 
why you changed it ?" Bucky 's innocent eyes ques- 
tioned him blandly as he drew from his pocket a 
little box and tossed it on the table. "Open that 
box for me, Mr. Anderson. Who knows ? It might 
explain a heap of things to us/' 

With trembling fingers the big coward fumbled at 
the string. With all his fluent will he longed to re- 
sist, but the compelling eyes that met his so steadily 
were not to be resisted. Slowly he unwrapped the 
paper and took the lid from the little box, inside 
of which was coiled up a thin gold chain with locket 
pendant. 

"Be seated," ordered Bucky sternly, and after the 
man had found a chair the ranger sat down oppo- 
site him. 

From its holster he drew a revolver and from a 
pocket his watch. He laid them on the table side 
by side and looked across at the white-lipped trem- 
bler whom he faced. 

"We had better understand each other, Mr. An- 
derson. I've come here to get from you the story 
of that chain, so far as you know it. If you don't 

82 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



care to tell it I shall have to mess this floor up with 
your remains. Get one proposition into your cocoa- 
nut right now. You don't get out of this room alive 
with your secret. It's up to you to choose." 

Quite without dramatics, as placidly as if he were 
discussing railroad rebates, the ranger delivered his 
ultimatum. It seemed plain that he considered the 
issue no responsibility of his. 

Anderson stared at him in silent horror, moisten- 
ing his dry lips with the tip of his tongue. Once 
his gaze shifted to the sheriff but found small com- 
fort there. Collins had picked up a newspaper and 
was absorbed in it. 

"Are you going to let him kill me?" the man 
asked him hoarsely. 

He looked up from his newspaper in mild pro- 
test at such unreason. "Me? I ain't sittin' in this 
game. Seems like I mentioned that already." 

"Better not waste your time, signor, on side 
issues," advised the man behind the gun. "For I 
plumb forgot to tell you I'm allowing only three 
minutes to begin your story, half of which three 
has already slipped away to yesterday's seven thous- 
and years. Without wantin' to hurry you, I suggest 
the wisdom of a prompt decision." 

"Would he do it ?" gasped the victim, with a last 
appeal to Collins. 

"Would he what? Oh, shoot you up. Cayn't 
tell till I see. If he says he will he's liable to. He 
always was that haidstrong." 

83 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"But why why " 

"Yes, it's sure a heap against the law, but then 
Bucky ain't a lawyer. I don't reckon he cares sour 
grapes for the law as law. It's a right interesting 
guess as to whether he will or won't." 

"There's a heap of cases the law don't reach 
prompt. This is one of them," contributed the 
ranger cheerfully. He pocketed his watch and 
picked up the .45. "Any last message or anything 
of that sort, signer? I don't want to be unpleasant 
about this, you understand." 4 

The whilom bad man's teeth chattered. "I'll tell 
you anything you want to know." 

"Now, that's right sensible. I hate to come into 
another man's house and clutter it up. Reel off 
your yarn." 

"I don't know what you want." 

"I want the whole story of your kidnaping of 
the Mackenzie child, how came you to do it, what 
happened to Dave Henderson, and full directions 
where I may locate Frances Mackenzie. Begin at 
the beginning, and I'll fire questions at you when 
you don't make any point clear to me. Turn loose 
your yarn at me hot off the bat." 

The man told his story sullenly. While he was 
on the round-up as cook for the riders he had heard 
Mackenzie and Henderson discussing together the 
story of their adventure with the dying Spaniard 
and their hopes of riches from the mine he had left 
them. From that night he had set himself to dis- 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



cover the secret of its location, had listened at win- 
dows and at keyholes, and had once intercepted a 
letter from one to the other. By chance he had 
discovered that the baby was carrying the secret in 
her locket, and he had set himself to get it from 
her. 

But his chance did not come. He could not make 
friends with her, and at last, in despair of rinding 
a better opportunity, he had slipped into her room 
one night in the small hours to steal the chain. But 
it was wound round her neck in such a way that he 
could not slip it over her head. She had awakened 
while he was fumbling with the clasp and had begun 
to cry. Hearing her mother moving about in the 
next room, he had hastily carried the child with 
him, mounted the horse waiting in the yard, and 
ridden away. 

In the road he became aware, some time later, 
that he was being pursued. This gave him a dread- 
ful fright, for, as Bucky had surmised, he thought 
his pursuer was Mackenzie. All night he rode 
southward wildly, but still his follower kept on his 
trail till near morning, when he eluded him. He 
crossed the border, but late that afternoon got an- 
other fright. For it was plain he was still being 
followed. In the endless stretch of rolling hills he 
twice caught sight of a rider picking his way toward 
him. The heart of the guilty man was like water. 
He could not face the outraged father, nor was it 
possible to escape so dogged a foe by flight. An 

85 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



alternative suggested itself, and he accepted it with 
sinking courage. The child was asleep in his arms 
now, and he hastily dismounted, picketed his horse, 
and stole back a quarter of a mile, so that the neigh- 
ing of his bronco might not betray his presence. 
Then he lay down in a dense mesquit thicket and 
waited for his foe. It seemed an eternity till the 
man appeared at the top of a rise fifty yards away. 
Hastily Anderson fired, and again. The man top- 
pled from his horse, dead before he struck the 
ground. But when the cook reached him he was 
horrified to see that the man he had killed was a 
member of the Rurales, or Mexican border police. 
In his guilty terror he had shot the wrong man. 

He fled at once, pursued by a thousand fears. 
Late the next night he reached a Chihuahua village, 
after having been lost for many hours. The child 
he still carried with him, simply because he had not 
the heart to leave it to die in the desert alone. A 
few weeks later he married an American woman he 
met in Sonora. They adopted the child, but it died 
within the year of fever. 

Meanwhile, he was horrified to learn that Dave 
Henderson, following hard on his trail, had been 
found bending over the spot where the dead soldier 
lay, had been arrested by a body of Rurales, tried 
hurriedly, and convicted to life imprisonment. The 
evidence had been purely circumstantial. The bullet 
found in the dead body of the trooper was one that 
might have come from his rifle, one barrel of which 

86 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



was empty and had been recently fired. For the 
rest, he was a hated Americano, and, as a matter 
of course, guilty. His judges took pains to see 
that no message from him reached his friends in 
the States before he was buried alive in the prison. 
In that horrible hole an innocent man had been con- 
fined for fifteen years, unless he had died during 
that time. 

That, in substance, was the story told by the 
showman, and Bucky's incisive questions were un- 
able to shake any portion of it. As to the missing 
locket, the man explained that it had been broken 
off by accident and lost. When he discovered that 
only half the secret was contained on the map sec- 
tion he had returned the paper to the locket and 
let the child continue to carry it. Some years after 
the death of the child, Frances, his wife had lost the 
locket with the map. 

"And this chain and locket when did you lose 
them?" demanded Bucky sharply. 

"It must have been about two months ago, down 
at Nogales, that I sold it to a fellow. I was play- 
ing faro and losing. He gave me five dollars for 
it." 

And to that he stuck stoutly, nor could he be 
shaken from it. Both O'Connor and the sheriff 
believed he was lying, for they were convinced that 
he was the bandit with the red wig who had covered 
the engineer while his companions robbed the train. 
But of this they had no proof. Nor did Bucky even 

87 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



mention his suspicion to Hardman, for it was his 
intention to turn him loose and have him watched. 
Thus, perhaps, he would be caught corresponding or 
fraternizing with some of the other outlaws. Col- 
lins left the room before the showman, and when 
the latter came from the hotel he followed him into 
the night. 

Meanwhile, Bucky went out and tapped another 
of his underground wires. This ran directly to the 
Mexican consul at Tucson, to whom Bucky had 
once done a favor of some importance, and from 
him to Sonora and Chihuahua. It led to musty old 
official files, to records already yellowed with age, 
to court reports and prison registers. In the end 
it flashed back to Bucky great news. Dave Hender- 
son, arrested for the murder of the Rurales police- 
man, was still serving time in a Mexican prison 
for another man's crime. There in Chihuahua for 
fifteen years he had been lost to the world in that 
underground hole, blotted out from life so effectu- 
ally that few now remembered there had been such 
a person. It was horrible, unthinkable, but none the 
less true. 



CHAPTER VI. 

BUCKY MAKES A DISCOVERY. 

For a week Bucky had been in the little border 
town of Noches, called there by threats of a race 
war between the whites and the Mexicans. Having 
put the quietus on this, he was returning to Epitaph 
by way of the Huachuca Mountains. There are 
still places in Arizona where rapid transit can be 
achieved more expeditiously on the back of a bronco 
than by means of the railroad, even when the latter 
is available. So now Bucky was taking a short cut 
across country instead of making the two train 
changes, with the consequent inevitable delays that 
would have been necessary to travel by rail. 

He traveled at night and in the early morning, to 
avoid the heat of the midday sun, and it was in the 
evening of the second and last day that the skirts 
of happy chance led him to an adventure that was 
to affect his whole future life. He knew a water- 
hole on the Del Oro, where cows were wont to 
frequent even in the summer drought, and toward 
this he was making in the fag-end of the sultry day. 
While still some hundred yards distant he observed 
a spiral of smoke rising from a camp-fire at the 
spring, and he at once made a more circumspect ap- 
proach. For it might be any one of a score of 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



border ruffians who owed him a grudge and would 
be glad to pay it in the silent desert that tells no 
tales and betrays no secrets to the inquisitive. 

He flung the bridle-rein over his pony's neck and 
crept forward on foot, warily and noiselessly. 
While still some little way from the water-hole he 
was arrested by a sound that startled him. He could 
make out a raucous voice in anger and a pianissimo 
accompaniment of womanish sobs. 

"You're mine to do with as I like. I'm your 
uncle. I've raised you from a kid, and, by the great 
mogul ! you can't sneak off with the first good-for- 
nothing scoundrel that makes eyes at you. Thought 
you had slipped away from me, you white-faced, 
sniveling ttttle idiot, but I'll show you who is mas- 
ter." 

The lash of a w r hip rose and fell twice on quiver- 
ing flesh before Bucky leaped into the fireglow and 
wrested the riding- whip from the hands of the 
angry man who was plying it. 

"Dare to touch a woman, would you?" cried the 
ranger, swinging the whip vigorously across the 
broad shoulders of the man. "Take that and that 
and that, you brute!" 

But when Bucky had finished with the fellow and 
flung him a limp, writhing huddle of welts to the 
ground, three surprises awaited him. The first was 
that it was not a woman he had rescued at all, but 
a boy, and, as the flickering firelight played on his 
face, the ranger came to an unexpected recogni- 

90 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



tion. The slim lad facing him was no other than 
Frank Hardman, whom he had left a few days be- 
fore at the Rocking Chair under the care of moth- 
erly Mrs. Mackenzie. The young man's eyes went 
back with instant suspicion to the fellow he had just 
^ punished, and his suspicions were verified when the 
leaping light revealed the face of the showman 
Anderson. 

Bucky laughed. "I ce'tainly seem to be interfer- 
ing in your affairs a good deal, Mr. Anderson. You 
may take my word for it that you was the last per- 
son in the world I expected to meet here, unless 
it might be this boy. I left him safe at a ranch fifty 
miles from here, and I left you a staid business man 
of Epitaph. But it seems neither of you stayed 
hitched. Why for this yearning to travel?" 

"He found me where I was staying. I was out 
riding alone on an errand for Mrs. Mackenzie when 
he met me and made me go with him. He has ar- 
ranged to have me meet his wife in Mexico. The 
show wouldn't draw well without me. You know 
I do legerdemain," Frank explained, in his low, 
sweet voice. 

"So you had plans of your own, Mr. Anderson. 
Now, that was right ambitious of you. But I reckon 
I'll have to interfere with them again. Go through 
him, kid, and relieve him of any guns he happens 
to be garnished with. Might as well help yourself 
to his knives, too. He's so fond of letting them fly 
around promiscuous he might hurt himself. Good. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Now we can sit down and have a friendly talk. 
Where did you say you was intending to spend the 
next few weeks before I interrupted so unthinking 
and disarranged your plans? I'm talking to you, 
Mr. Anderson." 

"I was heading for Sonora," the man whined. 

What Bucky thought was: "Right strange di- 
rection to be taking for Sonora. I'll bet my pile you 
were going up into the hills to meet some of Wolf 
Leroy's gang. But why you were taking the kid 
along beats me, unless it was just cussedness." 
What he said was: 

"Oh, you'll like Epitaph a heap better. I allow 
you ought to stay at that old town. It's a real 
interesting place. Finished in the adobe style and 
that sort of thing. The jail's real comfy, too." 

"Would you like something to eat, sir?" presently 
asked Frank timidly. 

"Would I? Why, I'm hungry enough to eat a 
leather mail-sack. Trot on your grub, young man, 
and watch my smoke." 

Bucky did ample justice to the sandwiches and 
lemonade the lad set in front of him, but he ate 
with a wary eye on a possible insurrection on the 
part of his prisoner. 

"I'm a new man," he announced briskly, when 
he had finished. "That veal loaf sandwich went 
sure to the right spot. If you had been a young 
lady instead of a boy you couldn't fix things up 
more appetizing." 

92 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The lad's face flushed with embarrassment, ap- 
parently at the ranger's compliment, and the latter 
noticed how delicate the small face was. It made 
an instinctive, wistful appeal for protection, and 
Bucky felt an odd little stirring at his tender Irish 
heart. 

"Might think I was the kid's father to see what 
an interest I take in him," the young man told him- 
self reprovingly. "It's all tommyrot, too. A boy 
had .Dught to have more grit. I expect he needed 
that licking all right I saved him from." 

When Bucky had eaten, the camp things were 
repacked for travel. Epitaph was only twenty-three 
miles away, and the ranger preferred to ride in the 
cool of the night rather than sit up till daybreak 
with his prisoner. Besides, he could then catch 
the morning train from that town and save almost a 
day. 

So hour after hour they plodded on, the prisoner 
in front, O'Connor in the center, and Frank Hard- 
man bringing up the rear. It was an Arizona night 
of countless stars, with that peculiar soft, velvety at- 
mosphere that belongs to no other land or time. In 
the distance the jagged, violet line of mountains 
fose in silhouette against a sky not many shades 
lighter, while nearer the cool moonlight flooded a 
land grown magical under its divine touch. 

The ranger rode with a limp ease that made for 
rest, his body shifting now and again in the saddle, 
so as to change the weight and avoid stiffness. 

93 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



It must have been well past midnight that he 
caught the long breath of a sigh behind him. The 
trail had broadened at that point, for they were now 
down in the rolling plain, so that two could ride 
abreast in the road. Bucky fell back and put a sym- 
pathetic hand on the shoulder of the boy. 

"Plumb fagged out, kid?" he asked. 

"I am tired. Is it far?" 

"About four miles. Stick it out, and we'll be 
there in no time." 

"Yes, sir." 

"Don't call me sir. Call me Bucky." 

"Yes, sir." 

Bucky laughed. "You're ce'tainly the queerest 
kid I've run up against. I guess you didn't scramble 
up in this rough-and-tumble West like I did. You're 
too soft for this country." He let his firm brown 
fingers travel over the lad's curly hair and down the 
smooth cheek. "There it is again. Shrinking away 
as if I was going to hurt you. I'll bet a biscuit you 
never licked the stuffing out of another fellow in 
your life." 

"No, sir," murmured the youth, and Bucky al- 
most thought he detected a little, chuckling laugh. 

"Well, you ought to be ashamed of it. When 
I come back from old Mexico I'm going to teach you 
how to put up your dukes. You're going to ride 
the range with me, son, and learn to stick to your 
saddle when the bronc and you disagrees. Oh, I'll 
bet all you need is training. I'll make a man out of 

94 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



you yet," the ranger assured his charge cheerfully. 

"Will you?" came the innocent reply, but Bucky 
for a moment had the sense of being laughed at. 

"Yes, I 'will you/ sissy," he retorted, without the 
least exasperation. "Don't think you know it all. 
Right now you're riding like a wooden man. You 
want to take it easy in the saddle. There's about 
a dozen different positions you can take to rest your- 
self." And Bucky put him through a course of 
sprouts. "Don't sit there laughing at folks that 
knows a heap more than you ever will get in your 
noodle, and perhaps you won't be so done up at 
the end of a little jaunt like this," he concluded. 
And to his conclusion he presently added a post- 
script: "Why, I know kids your age can ride day 
and night for a week on the round-up without be- 
ing all in. How old are you, son ?" 

"Eighteen." 

"That's a lie," retorted the ranger, with immedi- 
ate frankness. "You're not a day over fifteen, I'll 
bet." 

"I meant to say fifteen/' meekly corrected the 
youth. 

"That's another of them. You meant to say 
eighteen, but you found I wouldn't swallow it. 
Now, Master Frank, you want to learn one thing 
prompt if you and I are to travel together. I 
can't stand a liar. You tell the truth, or I'll give 
you the best licking you ever had in your life." 

95 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"You're as bad a bully as he is," the boy burst 
out, flushing angrily. 

"Oh, no, I'm not," came the ranger's prompt 
unmoved answer. "But just because you're such a , 
weak little kid that I could break you in two isn't' 
any reason why I should put up with any foolish- 
ness from you. I mean to see that you act proper, 
the way an honest kid ought to do. Savvy ?" 

"I'd like to know who made you my master?" 
demanded the boy hotly. 

"You've ce'tainly been good and spoiled, but 
you needn't ride your high hawss with me. 
Here's the long and the short of it. To tell lies 
ain't square. If I ask you anything you don't 
want to answer tell me to go to hell, but don't lie 
to me. If you do I'll punish you the same as if 
you were my brother, so long as you trail with 
me. If you don't like it, cut loose and hit the pike 
for yourself." 

'I've a good mind to go." 

Bucky waved a hand easily into space. "That's 
all right, too, son. There's a heap of directions 
you can hit from here. Take any one you like. But 
if I was as beat as you are, I think I'd keep on the 
Epitaph road." He laughed his warm, friendly 
laugh, before the geniality of which discord seemed 
to melt, and again his arm went round the other's 
weary shoulders with a caressing gesture that was 
infinitely protecting. 

The boy laughed tremulously. "You're awfully 

96 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



good to me. I know I'm a cry-baby, sissy boy, but 
if you'll be patient with me I'll try to be gamer." 

It certainly was strange the way Bucky's pulse 
quickened and his blood tingled when he touched 
the little fellow and heard that velvet voice's soft 
murmur. Yes, it surely was strange, but perhaps 
the young Irishman's explanation was not the cor- 
rect one, after all. The cause he offered to him- 
self for this odd joy and tender excitement was per- 
fectly simple. 

"I'm surely plumb locoed, or else gone soft in 
the haid," he told himself grimly. 

But the reason for those queer little electric shocks 
that pulsed through him was probably a more ele- 
mental and primeval one than even madness. 

Arrived at Epitaph, Bucky turned loose his pris- 
oner with a caution and made his preparations to 
leave immediately for Chihuahua. Collins had re^ 
turned to Tucson, but was in touch with the situa- 
tion and ready to set out for any point where he 
was needed. 

Bucky, having packed, was confronted with a 
difficulty. He looked at it, and voiced his perplex- 
ity. 

"Now, what am I going to do with you, Curly 
Haid? I expect I had better ship you back to the 
Rocking Chair." 

"I don't want to go back there. He'll come out 
again and find me after you leave." 

"Where do you want to go, then? If you were 

97 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



a girl I could put you in the convent school here," 
he reflected aloud. 

Again that swift, deep blush irradiated the youth's 
cheeks. "Why can't I go with you ?" he asked shyly. 

The ranger laughed. "Mebbe you think I'm go- 
ing on a picnic. Why, I'm starting out to knock 
the chip off Old Man Trouble's shoulder. Like as 
not some greaser will collect Mr. Bucky's scalp 
down in manana land. No, sir, this doesn't threaten 
to be a Y. P. S. C. E. excursion." 

"If it is so dangerous as that, you will need 
help, I'm awful good at making up, and I can 
speak Spanish like a native." 

"Sho ! You don't want to go running your neck 
into a noose. It's a jail-break I'm planning, son. 
There may be guns a-popping before we get back 
to God's country if we ever do. Add to that, 
trouble and then some, for there's a revolution 
scheduled for old Chihuahua just now, as your uncle 
happens to know from reliable information." 

"Two can always work better than one. Try me, 
Bucky," pleaded the boy, the last word slipping out 
with a trailing upward inflection that was irresist- 



"Sure you won't faint if we get in a tight pinch, 
Curly?" scoffed O'Connor, even though in his mind 
he was debating a surrender. For he was extraordi- 
narily taken with the lad, and his judgment justi- 
fied what the boy had said. 

"I shall not be afraid if you are with me." 

98 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"But I may not be with you. That's the trouble. 
Supposing I should be caught, what would you do ?" 

"Follow any orders you had given me before that 
time. If you had not given any, I would use my 
best judgment." 

"I'll give them now," smiled Bucky. "If I'm 
lagged > make straight for Arizona and tell Webb 
Mackenzie or Val Collins." 

"Then you will take me?" cried the boy eagerly. 

"Only on condition that you obey orders explic- 
itly. I'm running this cutting-out expedition." 

"I wouldn't think of disobeying." 

"And I don't want you to tell me any lies." 

"No." 

Bucky's big brown fist caught the little one and 
squeezed it. "Then it's a deal, kid. I only hope I'm 
doing right to take you." 

"Of course you are. Haven't you promised to 
make a man of me?" And again Bucky caught that 
note of stifled laughter in the voice, though the big 
brown eyes met his quite seriously. 

They took the train that night for El Paso, Bucky 
in the lower berth and his friend in the upper of 
section six of one of the Limited's Pullman cars. 
The ranger was awake and up with the day. For 
a couple of hours he sat in the smoking section and 
discussed politics with a Chicago drummer. He 
knew that Frank was very tired, and he let him 
sleep till the diner was taken on at Lordsburg. 
Then he excused himself to the traveling man. 

99 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I reckon I better go and wake up my pardner. 
I see the chuck-wagon is toddling along behind us." 

Bucky drew aside the curtains and shook the boy 
gently by the shoulder. Frank's eyes opened and 
looked at the ranger with that lack of comprehen- 
sion peculiar to one roused suddenly from deep 
sleep. 

"Time to get up, Curly. The nigger just gave 
the first call for the chuck-wagon." 

An understanding of the situation flamed over 
the boy's face. He snatched the curtains from the 
Arizonian and gathered them tightly together. "I'll 
thank you not to be so familiar," he said shortly 
from behind the closed curtains. 

"I beg your pahdon, your royal highness. I 
should have had myself announced and craved an 
audience, I reckon," was Bucky's ironic retort; and 
swiftly on the heels of it he added. "You make 
me tired, kid." 

O'Connor was destined to be "made tired" a 
good many times in the course of the next few days. 
In all the little personal intimacies Frank possessed 
a delicate fastidiousness outside the experience of 
the ranger. He was a scrupulously clean man him- 
self, and rather nice as to his personal habits, but it 
did not throw him into a flame of embarrassment to 
brush his teeth before his fellow passengers. Nor 
did it send him into a fit if a friend happened to 
drop into his room while he was finishing his dress- 
ing. Bucky agreed with himself that this excess 

100 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



of shyness was foolishness, and that to indulge the 
boy was merely to lay up future trouble for him. A 
dozen times he was on the point of speaking his 
mind on the subject, but some unusual quality of 
innocence in the lad tied his tongue. 

"Blame it all, I'm getting to be a regular old 
granny. What Master Frank needs is a first-class 
dressing-down, and here the little cuss has got me 
bluffed to a fare-you-well so that I'm mum as a 
hooter on the nest," he admitted to himself rue- 
fully. "Just when something comes up that needs a 
good round damn I catch that big brown Sunday- 
school eye of his, and it's Bucky back to Webster's 
unabridged. I've got to quit trailing with him, or 
I'll be joining the church first thing I know. He 
makes me feel like I want to be good, confound the 
little swindle." 

Notwithstanding the ranger's occasional moments 
of exasperation, the two got along swimmingly. 
Each of them found a continued pleasure in delving 
into the other's unexplored mental recesses. They 
drifted into one of those quick, spontaneous likings 
that are rare between man and man. Some subtle 
quality of affection bubbled up like a spring in the 
hearts of each for the other. Young Hardman 
could perhaps have explained what lay at the roots 
of it, but O'Connor admitted that he was "buf- 
faloed" when he attempted an analysis of his un- 
usual feeling. 

From El Paso a leisurely run on the Mexican 
101 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Central Pacific took them to Chihuahua, a quaint 
old city something about the size of El Paso. Both 
Bucky and his friend were familiar with the man- 
ners of the country, so that they felt at home among 
the narrow adobe streets, the lounging, good-na- 
tured peons, and the imitation Moorish architecture. 
They found rooms at a quiet, inconspicuous hotel, 
and began making their plans for an immediate de- 
parture in the event that they succeeded in their ob- 
ject. 

At a distance it had seemed an easy thing to plan 
the escape of David Henderson and to accomplish it 
by craft, but a sight of the heavy stone walls that 
encircled the prison and of the numerous armed 
guards who paced to and fro on the walls, put a 
more chilling aspect on their chances. 

"It isn't a very gay outlook," Bucky admitted 
cheerfully to his companion, "but I expect we can 
pull it off somehow. If these Mexican officials 
weren't slower than molasses in January it might 
have been better to wait and have him released by 
process of law on account of Hardman's confession. 
But it would take them two or three years to come 
to a decision. They sure do hate to turn loose a 
gringo when they have got the hog-tie on him. Like 
as not they would decide against him at the last, 
then. Course I've got the law machinery grinding, 
too, but I'm not banking on it real heavy. We'll 
get him out first any old way, then get the govern- 
ment to O. K. the thing." 

I O2 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"How were you thinking of proceeding?" 

"I expect it's time to let you in on the ground 
floor, son. I reckon you happen to know that down 
in these Spanish countries there's usually a revolu- 
tion hatching. There's two parties among the aris- 
tocrats, those for the government and those ferninst. 
The 'ins' stand pat, but the 'outs' have always got a 
revolution up their sleeves. Now, there's mostly a 
white man mixed up in the affair. They have to 
have him to run it and to shoot afterward when the 
government wins. You see, somebody has to be 
shot, and it's always so much to the good if they 
can line up gringoes instead of natives. Nine times 
out of ten it's an Irish-American lad that is engi- 
neering the scheme. This time it happens to be 
Mickey O'Halloran, an old friend of mine. I'm 
going to put it up to Mick to find a way." 

"But it isn't any affair of his. He won't do it, 
will he?" 

"Oh, I thought I told you he was Irish." 

"Well?" 

"And spoiling for trouble, of course. Is it likely 
he could keep his fist out of the hive when there's 
such a gem of a chance to get stung?" 

It had been Frank's suggestion that they choose 
rooms at a hotel which open into each other and also 
connect with an adjoining pair. The reason for 
this had not at first been apparent to the ranger, 
but as soon as they were alone Frank explained. 

"It i's very likely that we shall be under surveil- 
103 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



lance after a day or two, especially if we are seen 

around the prison a good deal. Well, we'll slip out 

the back way to-night, disguised in some other rig, 

( come boldly in by the front door, and rent the rooms 

, next ours. Then we shall be able to go and come, 

either as ourselves or as our neighbors. It will give 

us a great deal more liberty." 

"Unless we should get caught. Then we would 
have a great deal less. What's your notion of a 
rig-up to disguise us, kid?" 

"We might have several, in case of emergencies. 
For one thing, we could easily be street showmen. 
You can do fancy shooting and I can do sleight-of- 
hand tricks or tell fortunes." 

"You would be a gipsy lad?" 

The youngster blushed. "A gipsy girl, and you 
might be my husband." 

"I'm no play actor, even if you are," said Bucky. 
"I don't want to be your husband, thank you." 

"All you would have to do is to be sullen and 
rough. It is easy enough." 

"And you think you could pass for a girl? 
You're slim and soft enough, but I'll bet you would 
give it away inside of an hour." 

The boy laughed, and shot a swift glance at 
O'Connor under his long lashes. "I appeared as a 
girl in one of the acts of the show for years. No- 
body ever suspected that I wasn't." 

"We might try it, but we have no clothes for 
the part." 

104 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Leave that to me. I'll buy some to-day while 
you are looking the ground over for our first assault 
on the impregnable fortress." 

"I don't know. It seems to me pretty risky. But 
you might buy the things, and we'll see how you 
look in them. Better not get all the things at the 
same store. Sort of scatter your purchases around." 

They separated at the door of the hotel, Frank 
to choose the materials he needed, and O'Connor 
to look up O'Halloran and get a permit to visit the 
prison from the proper authorities. When the lat- 
ter returned triumphantly with his permit he found 
the boy busy with a needle and thread and sur- 
rounded by a litter of dress-making material. 

"I'm altering this to fit me and fixing it up," he 
explained. 

"Holy smoke! Who taught you to sew?" asked 
Bucky, in surprise. 

"My aunt, Mrs. Hardman. I used to do all the 
plain sewing on my costumes. Did you see your 
friend and get your permit ?" 

"You bet I did, and didn't. Mickey was out, but 
I left him a note. The other thing I pulled off all 
right. I'm to be allowed to visit the prison and 
make a careful inspection of it at my leisure. 
There's nothing like a pull, son." 

"Does the permit say you are to be allowed to 
steal any one of the prisoners you take a fancy to?" 
asked Frank, with a smile. 

105 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"No, it forgot to say that. When do you expect 
to have that toggery made?" 

"A good deal of it is already made, as you see. 
I'm just making a few changes. Do you want to 
try on your suit?" 

"Is this mine ?" asked the ranger, picking up with 
smiling contempt the rather gaudy blouse that lay 
on a chair. 

"Yes, sir, that is yours. Go and put it on and 
we'll see how it fits." 

Bucky returned a few minutes later in his gipsy 
uniform, with a deprecating grin. 

"I'll have to stain your face. Then you'll do 
very well," said Frank, patting and pulling at the 
clothes here and there. "It's a good fit, if I do 
say it that chose it. The first thing you want to do 
when you get out in it is to roll in the dust and 
get it soiled. No respectable gipsy wears new 
clothes. Better have a tear or two in it, too." 

"You ce'tainly should have been a girl, the way 
you take to clothes, Curly." 

"Making up was my business for a good many 
years, you know," returned the lad quietly. "If 
you'll step into the other room for about fifteen min- 
utes I'll show you how well I can do it." 

It was a long half-hour later that Bucky thumped 
on the door between the rooms. "Pretty nearly 
ready, kid? Seems to me it is taking you a thun- 
dering long time to get that outfit on." 

106 




WAS THIS VIVID, DAZZLING CREATURE THE BOY ? 



Page 107. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"How long do you think it ought to take a lady 
to dress?" 

"Ten minutes is long enough, and fifteen, say, 
if she is going to a dance. You've been thirty-five 
by my Waterbury." 

"It's plain you never were married, Mr. Inno- 
cent. Why, a girl can't fix her hair in less than 
half an hour." 

"Well, you got a wig there, ain't you ? It doesn't 
take but about five seconds to stick that on. Hurry 
up, amigo! I'm clean through this old newspaper." 

"Read the advertisements," came saucily through 
the door. 

"I've read the durned things twice." 

"Learn them by heart," the sweet voice advised. 

"Oh, you go to Halifax!" 

Nevertheless, Mr. Bucky had to wait his com- 
rade's pleasure. But when he got a vision of the 
result, it was so little what he had expected that it 
left him staring in amazement, his jaw fallen and 
his eyes incredulous. 

The vision swept him a low bow. "How do you 
like Bonita?" it demanded gaily. 

Bucky's eyes circled the room, to make sure that 
the boy was not hidden somewhere, and came back 
to rest on his surprise with a look that was almost 
consternation. Was this vivid, dazzling creature 
the boy he had been patronizing, lecturing, promis- 
ing to thrash any time during the past four days? 
The thing was unbelievable, not yet to be credited 

107 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



by his jarred brain. How incredibly blind he had 
been! What an idiot of sorts! Why, the marks 
of sex sat on her beyond any possibility of doubt. 
Every line of the slim, lissom figure, every curve 
of the soft, undulating body, the sweep of rounded 
arm, of tapering waist-line, of well-turned ankle, 
contributed evidence of what it were folly to ask 
further proof. How could he have ever seen those 
lovely, soft-lashed eyes and the delicate little hands 
without conviction coming home to him ? And how 
could he have heard the low murmur of her voice/ 
the catch of her sobs, without knowing that they 
were a denial of masculinity? 

She was dressed like a Spanish dancing girl, in 
short kilts, red sash, and jaunty little cap placed 
sidewise on her head. She wore a wig of black 
hair, and her face was stained to a dusky, gipsy 
hue. Over her thumb hung castanets and in her 
hand was a tambourine. Roguishly she began to 
sway into a slow, rhythmic dance, beating time with 
her instruments as she moved. Gradually the speed 
quickened to a faster time. She swung gracefully 
to and fro with all the lithe agility of the race she 
personified. No part could have been better con- 
ceived or executed. Even physically she displayed 
the large, brilliant eyes, the ringleted, coal-black 
hair, the tawny skin, and the flashing smile that 
showed small teeth of dazzling ivory, characteristic 
of the Romanies he had met. It was a daring part 
to play, but the young man watching realized that 

108 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



she had the free grace to carry it out successfully. 
She danced the fandango to a finish, swept him an- 
other low bow, and presented laughingly to him the 
tambourine for his donation. Then, suddenly fling- 
ing aside the instrument, she curtsied and caught at 
his hand. 

"Will the senor have his fortune told?" 
Bucky drew a handful of change from his pocket 
and selected a gold eagle. "I suppose I must cross 
your palm with gold," he said, even while his sub- 
conscious mind was running on the new complica- 
tion presented to him by this discovery. 

He was very clear about one thing. He must 
not let her know that he knew her for a girl. To 
him she must still be a boy, or their relation would 
become impossible. She had trusted in her power 
to keep her secret from him. On no other terms 
would she have come with him; of so much he 
was sure, even while his mind groped for a suffi- 
cient reason to account for an impulse that might 
have impelled her. If she found out that he knew, 
the knowledge would certainly drive her at once 
from him. For he knew that not the least charm 
of the extraordinary fascination she had for him 
lay in her sweet innocence of heart, a fresh inno- 
cence that consisted with this gay Romany abandon, 
and even with a mental experience of the sordid, 
seamy side of life as comprehensive as that of 
many a woman twice her age. She had been 
defrauded out of her childish inheritance of inno- 

109 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



cence, but, somehow, even in her foul environment 
the seeds of a rare personal purity had persistently 
sprung up and flourished. Some flowers are of 
such native freshness that no nauseous surround- 
ings can kill their fragrance. And this was one 
of them. 

Meanwhile, her voice ran on with the patter of 
her craft. There was the usual dark woman to be 
circumvented and the light one to be rewarded. 
Jealousies and rivalries played their part in the non- 
sense she glibly recited, and somewhere in the fu- 
ture lay, of course, great riches and happiness for 
him. 

With a queer little tug at his heart he watched 
the dainty finger that ran so lightly over his open 
palm, watched, too, the bent head so gracefully 
fine of outline and the face so mobile of expres- 
sion when the deep eyes lifted to his in question of 
the correctness of her reading. He would miss the 
little partner that had wound himself so tightly 
round his heart. He wondered if he would find 
compensating joy in this exquisite creature whom 
a few moments had taken worlds distant from him. 

Suddenly tiring of her diversion, she dropped 
his hand. "You don't say I do it well," she charged, 
aware suspiciously, at last, of his grave silence. 

"You do it very well indeed. I didn't think you 
had it in you, kid. What's worrying me is that I 
can never live up to such a sure enough gipsy as 
you." 

no 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"All you have to do is to look sour and frown 
if anybody gets too familiar with me. You can do 
that, can't you?" 

"You bet I can," he answered promptly, with un- 
necessary emphasis. 

"And look handsome," she teased. 

"Oh, that will be easy for me since you are. 
going to make me up. As a simple child of na- 
ture I'm no ornament to the scenery, but art's a 
heap improving sometimes." 

She thought, but did not say, that art would go 
a long way before it could show anything more 
pleasing than this rider of the plains. It was not 
alone his face, with the likable blue eyes that could 
say so many things in a minute, but the gallant 
ease of his bearing. Such a springy lightness, such 
sinewy grace of undulating muscle, were rare even 
on the frontier. She had once heard Webb Macken- 
zie say of him that he could whip his weight in wild- 
cats, and it was easy of belief after seeing how 
surely he was master of the dynamic power in him. 
It is the emergency that sifts men, and she had 
seen him rise to several with a readiness that showed 
the stuff in him. 

That evening they slipped out unobserved in the 
dusk, and a few minutes later a young gipsy and 
his bride presented themselves at the inn to be put 
up. The scowling young Romany was particular, 
considering that he spent most nights in the open, 
with a sky for a roof. So the master of the inn 

ill 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



thought when he rejected on one pretense or an- 
other the first two rooms that were shown him. He 
wanted two rooms, and they must connect. Had 
the innkeeper such apartments ? The innkeeper had, 
but he would very much like to see the price in ad- 
vance if he was going to turn over to guests of such 
light baggage the best accommodations in the house. 
This being satisfactorily arranged, the young gip- 
sies were left to themselves in the room they had 
rented. 

The first thing that the man did when they were 
alone was to roll a cigarette, which operation he 
finished deftly with one hand, while the other swept 
a match in a circular motion along his trousers leg. 
In very fair English the Spanish gipsy said : "You 
ce'tainly ought to learn to smoke, kid. Honest, it's 
more comfort than a wife." 

"How do you know, since you are not married ?" 
she asked archly. 

"I been noticing some of my poor unfortunate 
friends," he grinned. 



112 



CHAPTER VII. 

IN THE LAND OF REVOLUTIONS. 

The knock that sounded on the door was neither 
gentle nor apologetic. It sounded as if somebody 
had flung a baseball bat at it. 

O'Connor smiled, remembering that soft tap of 

yore. "I reckon " he was beginning, when the 

door opened to admit a visitor. 

This proved to be a huge, red-haired Irishman, 
with a face that served just now merely as a set- 
ting for an irresistible smile. The owner of the 
flaming head looked round in surprise on the pair 
of Romanies and began an immediate apology to 
which a sudden blush served as accompaniment. 

"Beg pardon. I didn't know The domned 

dago told me " He stopped in confusion, with 

a scrape and a bow to the lady. 

"Sir, I demand an explanation of this most un- 
warrantable intrusion," spoke the ranger haughtily, 
in his best Spanish. 

A patter of soft foreign vowels flowed from the 
stranger's embarrassment. 

"You durned old hawss-stealing greaser, cayn't 
you talk English?" drawled the gipsy, with a grin. 

The other's mouth fell open with astonishment. 
He stared at the slim, dusky young Spaniard for 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



an instant before he fell upon him and began to 
pound his body with jovial fists. 

"You would, would you, you old pie-eating- fraud ! 
Try to fool your Uncle Mick and make him think 
you a greaser, would you? I'll learn yez to play 
horse with a full-grown, able-bodied white man." 
He punctuated his points with short-arm jolts that 
Bucky laughingly parried. 

"Before ladies, Mick! Haven't you forgot your 
manners, Red-haid?" 

Swiftly Mr. O'Halloran came to flushed rigidity. 
"Madam, I must still be apologizing. The surprise 
of meeting me friend went to me head, I shouldn't 
wonder." 

Bucky doubled up with apparent mirth. "Get 
into the other room, Curly, and get your other togs 
on," he ordered. "Can't you see that Mick is go- 
ing to fall in love with you if he sees you a minute 
longer, you young rascal? Hike!" 

"Don't you talk that way to a lady, Bucky," 
warned O'Halloran, again blushing vividly, after 
she had disappeared into the next room. "And I 
want to let yez have it right off the bat that if 
you've been leading that little Mexican senorita into 
trouble you've got a quarrel on with Mike O'Hal- 
loran." 

"Keep your shirt on, old fire-eater. Who told 
you I was wronging her any?" 

"Are you married to her?" 

"You bet I ain't. You see, Mick, that handsome 
114 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



lady you're going to lick the stuffing out of me 
about is only a plumb ornery sassy young boy, after 
all." 

"No!" denied Mick, his eyes two excited inter- 
rogation-points. "You can't stuff me with any such 
fairy-tale, me lad." 

"All right. Wait and see," suggested the ranger 
easily. "Have a smoke while you're falling out of 
love." 

"You young limb, I want you to tell me all about 
it this ver-ry minute, before I punch holes in yez." 

Bucky lit his cigar, leaned back, and began to 
tell the story of Frank Hardman and the knife- 
thrower. Only one thing he omitted to tell, and 
that was the conviction that had come home to him 
a few moments ago that his little comrade was no 
boy, but a woman. O'Halloran was a chivalrous 
Irishman, a daredevil of an adventurer, with a pure 
love of freedom that might very likely in the end 
bring him to face a row of loaded carbines with his 
back to a wall, but Bucky had his reticencies that 
even loyal friendship could not break down. This 
girl's secret he meant to guard until such time as she 
chose of her own free will to tell it. 

Frank returned just as he finished the tale of the 
knife episode, and Mick's frank open eyes accused 
him of idiocy for ever having supposed that this lad 
was a woman. Why, he was a little fellow not over 
fifteen not a day past fifteen, he would swear to 
that. He was, to be sure, a slender, girlish young 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



fellow, a good deal of a sissy by the look of him, 
but none the less a sure enough boy. Convinced 
of this, the big Irishman dismissed him promptly 
from his thoughts and devoted himself to Bucky. 

"And what are yez doing down in greaser land ? 
Thought you was rustling cows for a living some- 
wheres in sunburnt Arizona," he grinned amiably. 

"Me ? Oh, I came down on business. We'll talk 
about that presently. How's your one-hawss revo- 
lution getting along, Reddy ? I hope it's right peart 
and healthy." 

O'Halloran's eyes flashed a warning, with the 
slightest nod in the world toward the boy. 

"Don't worry about him. He's straight as a 
string and knows how to keep his mouth shut. You 
can tell him anything you would me." He turned 
to the boy sitting quietly in an inconspicuous cor- 
ner. "Mum's the word, Frank. You understand 
that, of course?" 

The boy nodded. "I'll go into the next room, if 
you like." 

"It isn't necessary. Fire ahead, Mike." 

The latter got up, tiptoed to each door in turn, 
flung it suddenly open to see that nobody was spy- 
ing behind it, and then turned the lock. "I have use 
for me head for another year or two, and it's just 
as well to see that nobody is spying. You under- 
stand, Bucky, that I'm risking me life in telling you 
what I'm going to. If you have any doubts about 

116 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



this lad " He stopped, keen eyes fixed on 

Frank. 

"He's as safe as I am, Mike. Is it likely I would 
take any risks about a thing of that sort with my 
old bunkie's tough neck inviting the hangman?" 
asked O'Connor quietly. 

"Good enough. The kid looks stanch, and, any- 
how, if you guarantee him that's enough for me." 
He accepted another of the ranger's cigars, puffed 
it to a red glow, and leaned back to smile at his 
friend. "Glory, but it's good to see ye, Bucky, 
me bye. You'll never know how a man's eyes ache 
to see a straight-up white man in this land of 
greasers. It's the God's truth I'm telling ye when 
I say that I haven't had a scrimmage with me hands 
since I came here. The only idea this forsaken 
country has of exchanging compliments is with a 
knife in the dark." He shook his flaming head 
regretfully at the deplorably lost condition of a 
country where the shillalah was unknown as a social 
institution. 

"If I wasn't tied up with this Valdez bunch I'd 
get out to-morrow, and sometimes I have half a 
mind to pull out anyhow. If you've never been as- 
sociated, me lad, with half a dozen most divilishly 
polite sefiors, each one of them watching the others 
out of the corner of his slant eyes for fear they 
are going to betray him or assassinate him first, 
you'll never know the joys of life in this peaceful 
and continted land of indolence. Life's loaded to 

117 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



the guards with uncertainties, so eat, drink, and 
be merry, for to-morrow you hang, or your friend 
will carve ye in the back with a knife, me ould 
priest used to say, or something like it. 'Tis certain 
he must have had in mind the Spanish-American, 
my son/' 

"Which is why you're here, you old fraud," 
smiled Bucky. "You've got to grumble, of course, 
but you couldn't be dragged away while there's a 
chance of a row. Don't I know you of old, Red- 
dy?" 

"Anyway, here I am, with me neck so near to the 
rope it fairly aches sometimes. If you have any 
inclinations toward suicide, I'll be glad to introduce 
ye to me revolutionary friends." 

"Thank you, no. The fact is that we have a lit- 
tle private war of our own on hand, Mike. I was 
thinking maybe you'd like to enlist, old filibuster." 

"Is the pay good?" 

"Nothing a day and find yourself," answered 
Bucky promptly. 

"No reasonable man could ask fairer than that," 
agreed O'Halloran, his grin expanding. "Well, 
then, what's the row ? Would ye like to be dictator 
of Chihuahua or Emperor of Mexico?" 

"There's an American in the government prison 
here under a life sentence. He is not guilty, and he 
has already served fifteen years." 

"He is like to serve fifteen more, if he lives 
that long." 

118 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Wrong guess. I mean to get him out/' 

"And I'm meaning to go to Paradise some day, 
but will I ?" 

"You're going to help me get him out, Mike." 

"Who told ye that, me optimistic young friend?" 

"I didn't need to be told." 

"Well, I'll not lift a finger, Bucky not a fin- 
ger." 

"I knew you wouldn't stand to see a man like 
Henderson rot in a dungeon. No Irishman would." 

"You needn't blarney me. I'm too old a bird 
to be caught with chaff. It's a dirty shame, of 
course, about this man Henderson, but I'm not run- 
ning the criminal jurisprudence of Mexico meself." 

"And I said to Webb Mackenzie : 'Mickey O'Hal- 
loran is the man to see ; he'll know the best way to 
do it as nobody else would.' I knew I could depend 
on you." 

"You've certainly kissed the blarney stone, Mr. 
O'Connor," returned the revolutionist dryly. "Well, 
then, what do you want me to do ?" 

"Nothing much. Get Henderson out and help us 
to get safely from the country whose reputation 
you black-eye so cheerfully." 

"Mercy of Hiven! Bring me the moon and a 
handful of stars, says he, as cool as you please." 

The ranger told the story of Henderson and 
Mackenzie's lost child in such a way that it lost 
nothing in the telling. 



119 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



O'Halloran was moved. " Tis a domned shame 
about this man Henderson," he blurted out. 

Bucky leaned back comfortably and waved airily 
his brown hand. "It's up to you," his gay, impu- 
dent eyes seemed to say. 

"I don't say I won't be able to help you," con- 
ceded O'Halloran. "It happens, me bye, that you've 
dropped in on me just before the band begins to 
play." He lowered his voice almost to a whisper. 
"There's a shipment of pianos being brought down 
the line this week. The night after they arrive I'm 
looking for music." 

"I see. The piano boxes are filled with rifles and 
ammunition." 

"You have a mind like a tack, Bucky. Rifles 
is the alias of them pianos. They'll make merry 
music once we get them through." 

"That's all very well, but have you reckoned with 
the government at Mexico? Chihuahua isn't the 
whole country, Mickey. Suppose President Diaz 
takes a hand in the game and sends troops in on 
you?" 

"He won't," answered the other, with a wink. 
"He's been seen. The president isn't any too 
friendly to that ould tyrant Megales, who is now 
governor here. There's an election next week. The 
man that gets most votes will be elected, and I'm 
thinking, Bucky, that the man with most rifles will 
get most votes. Now, says Diaz, in effect, wid an 
official wave of his hand, 'Settle your own rows, 

1 20 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



gintlemen. I don't give a domn whether Megales 
or Valdez is governor of Chihuahua, subject, of 
coorse, to the will of the people/ Then he winks 
at Valdez wid his off eye as much as to say: 'Go 
in an' win, me boy; me prayers are supporting ye. 
But be sure ye do nothing too illegal.' So there ye 
are, Bucky. If ould Megales was to wake up elec- 
tion morning and find that the polling-places was in 
our hands, his soldiers disarmed or bought over, and 
everything contributing smoothly to express the will 
of the people in electing him to take a swift hike out 
of Chihuahua, it is likely that he might accept the 
inevitable as the will of fate and make a strategic 
retreat to climes more healthy." 

"And if in the meantime he should discover those 
rifles, or one of those slant-eyed senors should turn 
out a Benedict Arnold, what then, my friend?" 

"Don't talk in that cruel way. You make me 
neck ache in anticipation," returned O'Halloran 
blithely. 

"I think we'll not travel with you in public till 
after the election, Mr. O'Halloran," reflected Bucky 
aloud. 

" 'T would be just as well, me son. My friends 
won't be overpopular with Megales if the cards fall 
his way." 

"If you win, I suppose we may count Henderson 
as good as a free man?" 

"It would be a pity if me pull wouldn't do a lit- 
tle thing like that," scoffed the conspirator genially. 

121 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"But, win or lose, I may be able to help you. We 
need musicians to play those pianos we're bringing 
in. Well, the most dependable men we can set to 
play some of them are the prisoners in the fortress. 
There's likely to be a wholesale jail delivery the 
night before the election. Now, it's just probable 
that the lads we free will fight to keep their free- 
dom. That's why we use them. They have to be 
true to us because, if they don't, whichever side wins 
back they go to jail." 

"Of course. I wish I could take a hand myself. 
But I can't, because I'm a soldier of a friendly 
power. We'll get Henderson out the night before 
the election and leave on the late train. You'll have 
to arrange the program in time for us to catch that 
train." 

O'Halloran looked drolly at him. "I'm liking 
your nerve, young man. I pull the chestnuts out 
of the fire for yez and, likely enough, get burned. 
You walk off with your chestnut, and never a 
'Thank ye' for poor Mickey the catspaw." 

"It doesn't look like quite a square deal, does it ?" 
laughed the ranger. "Well, we might vary the 
program a bit. Bucky O'Connor, Arizona ranger, 
can't stop and take a hand in such a game, but I 
don't know anything to prevent a young gipsy from 
Spain staying over a few days." 

"If you stay, I shall," announced the boy Frank. 

"You'll do nothing of the kind, seh. You'll do 
just as I say, according to the agreement you made 

122 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



with me when I let you come," was Bucky's curt 
answer. "We're not playing this game to please 
you, Master Frank." 

Yet though the ranger spoke curtly, though he 
still tried to hold toward his comrade precisely the 
same attitude as he had before discovering her sex, 
he could not put into his words the same peremp- 
tory sting that he had done before when he found 
that occasionally necessary. For no matter how 
severely he must seem to deal with her to avoid 
her own suspicions as to what he knew, as well as 
to keep from arousing those of others, his heart 
was telling a very different story all the time. He 
could see again the dainty grace with which she had 
danced for him, heard again that low voice breaking 
into a merry piping lilt, warmed once more to the 
living, elusive smile, at once so tender and mocking. 
He might set his will to preserve an even front to 
her gay charm, but it was beyond him to control 
the thrills that shot his pulses. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

FIRST: BLOOD! 

Occasionally Alice Mackenzie met Collins on the 
streets of Tucson. Once she saw him at the hotel 
where she was staying, deep in a discussion with 
her father of ways and means of running down the 
robbers of the Lkmted. He did not, however, make 
the least attempt to push their train acquaintance- 
ship beyond the give and take of casual greeting. 
Without showing himself unfriendly, he gave her 
no opportunity to determine how far they would go 
with each other. This rather piqued her, though 
she would probably have rebuffed him if he had pre- 
sumed far. Of which probability Val Collins was 
very well aware. 

They met one morning in front of a drug store 
downtown. She carried a parasol that was lilac- 
trimmed, which shade was also the outstanding note 
of her dress. She was looking her very best, and no 
doubt knew it. To Val her dainty freshness seemed 
to breathe the sweetness of spring violets. 

"Good mo'ning, Miss Mackenzie. Weather like 
this I'm awful glad I ain't a mummy," he told her. 
"The world's mighty full of beautiful things this 
glad day." 

"Essay on the Appreciation of Nature, by Pro- 
fessor Collins," she smiled. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"To be continued in our next," he amended. 
"Won't you come in and have a sundae ? You look 
as if you didn't know it, but the rest of us have 
discovered it's a right warm mo'ning." 

Looking across the little table at him over her 
sundae, she questioned him with innocent impu- 
dence. "I saw you and dad deep in plans Tues- 
day. I suppose by now you have all the train rob- 
bers safely tucked away in the penitentiary?" 

"Not yet," he answered cheerfully. 

"Not yet!" Her lifted eyebrows and the deri- 
sive flash beneath mocked politely his confidence. 
"By this time I should think they might be hunting 
big game in deepest Africa." 

"They might be, but they're not." 

"What about that investment in futurities you 
made on the train? The month is more than half 
up. Do you see any chance of realizing?" 

"It looks now as if I might be a false prophet, 
but I feel way down deep that I won't. In this 
prophet's business confidence is half the stock in 
trade." 

"Really. I'm very curious to know what it is 
you predicted. Was it something good?" 

"Good for me," he nodded. 

"Then I think you'll get it," she laughed. "I 
have noticed that it is the people that expect things 
and then go out and take them that inherit the 
earth these days. The meek have been dispos- 
sessed." 

125 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I'm glad I have your good wishes." 

"I didn't say you had, but you'll get along just as 
well without them," she answered with a cool little 
laugh as she rose. 

"I'd like to discuss that proposition with you more 
at length. May I call on you some evening this 
week, Miss Mackenzie?" 

There was a sparkle of hidden malice in her an- 
swer. "You're too late, Mr. Collins. We'll have 
to leave it undiscussed. I'm going to leave to-day 
for my uncle's ranch, the Rocking Chair." 

He was distinctly disappointed, though he took 
care not to show it. Nevertheless, the town felt 
empty after her train had gone. He was glad when 
later in the day a message came calling him to 
Epitaph. It took him at least seventy-five miles 
nearer her. 

Before he had been an hour at Epitaph the sheriff 
knew he had struck gold this time. Men were in 
town spending money lavishly, and at a rough de- 
scription they answered to the ones he wanted. Into 
the Gold Nugget Saloon that evening dropped Val 
Collins, big, blond, and jaunty. He looked far less 
the vigorous sheriff out for business than the gre- 
garious cowpuncher on a search for amusement. 

Del Hawkes, an old-time friend of his staging 
days, pounced on him and dragged him to the bar, 
whence his glance fell genially on the roulette wheel 
and its devotees, wandered casually across the im- 
passive poker and Mexican monte players, took in 

126 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



the enthroned musicians, who were industriously 
murdering "La Paloma," and came to rest for 
barely an instant at a distant faro table. In the 
curly-haired good-looking young fellow facing the 
dealer he saw one of the men he had come seeking. 
Nor did he need to look for the hand with the miss- 
ing trigger finger to be sure it was York Neil 
that same gay, merry-hearted York with whom he 
used to ride the range, changed now to a miscre- 
ant who had elected to take the short cut to wealth. 

But the man beside Neil, the dark-haired, pallid 
fellow from whose presence something at once for- 
midable and sinister and yet gallant seemed to 
breathe the very sight of him set the mind of Col- 
lins at work busily upon a wild guess. Surely here 
was a worthy figure upon whom to set the name 
and reputation of the notorious Wolf Leroy. 

Yet the sheriff's eyes rested scarce an instant be- 
fore they went traveling again, for he wanted to 
show as yet no special interest in the object of his 
suspicions. The gathering was a motley one, pic- 
turesque in its diversity. For here had drifted not 
only the stranded derelicts of a frontier civilization, 
but selected types of all the turbid elements that go 
to make up its success. Mexican, millionaire, and 
miner brushed shoulders at the roulette-wheel. 
Chinaman and cow-puncher, Papago and plainsman, 
tourist and tailor, bucked the tiger side by side with 
a democracy found nowhere else in the world. The 
click of the wheel, the monotonous call of the 

127 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



croupier, the murmur of many voices in alien 
tongues, and the high-pitched jarring note of bois- 
terous laughter, were all merged in a medley of con- 
fusion as picturesque as the scene itself. 

"Business not anyways slack at the Nugget," ven- 
tured Collins, to the bartender. 

"No, I don't know as 'tis. Nearly always some- 
thin' doing in little old Epitaph," answered the pub- 
lic quencher of thirsts, polishing the glass top of the 
bar with a cloth. 

"Playing with the lid off back there, ain't they ?" 
The sheriff's nod indicated the distant faro-table. 

"That's right, I guess. Only blue chips go." 

"It's Wolf Leroy that Mexican-looking fellow 
there," Hawkes explained in a whisper. "A bad 
man with the gun, they say, too. Well, him and 
York Neil and Scotty Dailey blew in last night 
from their mine, up at Saguache. Gave it out he 
was going to break the bank, Leroy did. Back- 
ing that opinion usually comes high, but Leroy is 
about two thousand to the good, they say." 

"Scotty Dailey? Don't think I know him." 

"That shorthorn in chaps and a yellow bandanna 
is the gentleman; him that's playing the wheel so 
constant. You don't miss no world-beater when you 
don't know Scotty. He's Leroy's Man Friday. 
Understand they've struck it rich. Anyway, they're 
hitting high places while the mazuma lasts." 

"I can't seem to locate their mine. What's its 
brand?" 

128 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"The Dalriada. Some other guy is in with them ; 
fellow by the name of Hardman, if I recollect; just 
bought out a livery barn in town here." 

"Queer thing, luck; strikes about as unexpected 
as lightning. Have another, Del?'* 

"Don't care if I do, Val. It always makes me 
thirsty to see people I like. Anything new up Tuc- 
son way?" 

The band had fallen on "Manzanilla," and was 
rending it with variations when Collins circled round 
to the wheel and began playing the red. He took a 
place beside the bow-legged vaquero with the yel- 
low bandanna knotted loosely round his throat. For 
five minutes the cow-puncher attended strictly to his 
bets. Then he cursed softly, and asked Collins to 
exchange places with him. 

"This place is my hoodoo. I can't win " The 

sentence died in the man's throat, became an inar- 
ticulate gurgle of dismay. 

He had looked up and met the steady eyes of the 
sheriff, and the surprise of it had driven the blood 
from his heart. A revolver thrust into his face 
could not have shaken him more than that serene 
smile. 

Collins took him by the arm with a jovial laugh 
meant to cover their retreat, and led him into one 
of the curtained alcove rooms. As they entered 
he noticed out of the corner of his eye that Leroy 
and Neil were still intent on their game. Not for a 
moment, not even while the barkeeper was answer- 

I2Q 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



ing their call for liquor, did the sheriff release Scotty 
from the rigor of his eyes, and when the attendant 
drew the curtain behind him the officer let his smile 
take on a new meaning. 

"What did I tell you, Scotty?" 
; "Prove it," defied Scotty. "Prove it you can't 
prove it." 

"What can't I prove?" 

"Why, that I was in that " Scotty stopped 

abruptly, and watched the smile broaden on the 
strong face opposite him. His dull brain had come 
to his rescue none too soon. 

"Now, ain't it funny how people's thoughts get 
to running on the same thing? Last time I met up 
with you there you was collecting a hundred dollars 
and keep-the-change cents from me, and now here 
you are spending it. It's ce'tinly curious how both 
of us are remembering that little seance in the Pull- 
man car." 

Scotty took refuge in a dogged silence. He was 
sweating fear. 

"Yes, sir. It comes up right vivid before me. 
There was you a-trainin' your guns on me " 

"I wasn't," broke in Scotty, falling into the trap. 

"That's right. How come I to make such a mis- 
take? Of cou'se you carried the sack and York 
Neil held the guns." 

The man cursed quietly, and relapsed into si- 
lence. 

"Always buy your clothes in pairs ?" 
130 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The sheriff's voice showed only a pleasant inter- 
est, but the outlaw's frightened eyes were puzzled at 
tkis sudden turn. 

"Wearing a bandanna same color and pattern as 
you did the night of our jamboree on the Limited, I 
see. That's mightily careless of you, ain't it?" 

Instinctively a shaking hand clutched at the ker- 
chief. "It don't cut any ice because a hold-up wears 
a mask made out of stuff like this " 

"Did I say it was a mask he wore?" the gentle 
voice quizzed. 

Scotty, beads of perspiration on his forehead, col- 
lapsed as to his defense. He fell back sullenly to his 
first position : "You can't prove anything." 

"Can't I?" The sheriff's smile went out like a 
snuffed candle. Eyes and mouth were cold and 
hard as chiseled marble. He leaned forward far 
across the table, a confident, dominating assurance 
painted on his face. "Can't I ? Don't you bank on 
that. I can prove all I need to, and your friends 
will prove the rest. They'll be falling all over them- 
selves to tell what they know and Mr. Dailey will 
be holding the sack again, while Leroy and the rest 
are slipping out." 

The outlaw sprang to his feet, white to the lips. 

"It's a damned lie. Leroy would never " He 

stopped, again just in time to bite back the confes- 
sion hovering on his lips. But he had told what 
Collins wanted to know. 

The curtain parted, and a figure darkened the 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



doorway a slender, lithe figure that moved on 
springs. Out of its sardonic, devil-may-care face 
gleamed malevolent eyes which rested for a moment 
on Dailey, before they came home to the sheriff. 

"And what is it Leroy would never do ?" a gibing 
voice demanded silkily. 

Scotty pulled himself together and tried to bluff, 
but at the look on his chief's face the words died 
in his throat. 

Collins did not lift a finger or move an eyelash, 
but with the first word a wary alertness ran through 
him and starched his figure to rigidity. He gath- 
ered himself together for what might come. 

"Well, I am waiting. What it is Leroy would 
never do?" The voice carried a scoff with it, the 
implication that his very presence had stricken con- 
spirators dumb. 

Collins offered the explanation. 

"Mr. Dailey was beginning a testimonial of your 
virtues just as you right happily arrived in time to 
hear it. Perhaps he will now proceed." 

But Dailey had never a word left. His blunders 

>had been crying ones, and his chief's menacing look 

had warned him what to expect. The courage oozed 

out of his heart, for he counted himself already a 

dead man. 

"And who are you, my friend, that make so free 
with Wolf Leroy's name ?" It was odd how every 
word of the drawling sentence contrived to carry a 

132 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



taunt and a threat with it, strange what a deadly 
menace the glittering eyes shot forth. 

"My name is Collins." 

"Sheriff of Pima County ?" 

"Yes." 

The eyes of the men met like rapiers, as steady 
and as searching as cold steel. Each of them was 
appraising the rare quality of his opponent in this 
duel to the death that was before him. 

"What are you doing here ? Ain't Pima County 
your range?" 

"I've been discussing with your friend the late 
hold-up on the Transcontinental Pacific." 

"Ah!" Leroy knew that the sheriff was serv- 
ing notice on them of his purpose to run down the 
bandits. Swiftly his mind swept up the factors of 
the situation. Should he draw now and chance the 
result, or wait for a more certain ending? He 
decided to wait, moved by the consideration that 
even if he were victorious the lawyers were sure to 
draw out of the fat-brained Scotty the cause of the 
quarrel. 

"Well, that don't interest me any, though I sup- 
pose you have to explain a heap how come they to 
hold you up and take your gun. I'll leave you and 
your jelly-fish Scotty to your gabfest. Then you 
better run back home to Tucson. We don't go much 
on visiting sheriffs here." He turned on his heel 
with an insolent laugh, and left the sheriff alone 
with Dailey. 

133 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The superb contempt of the man, his readiness 
to give the sheriff a chance to pump out of Dailey 
all he knew, served to warn Collins that his life was 
in imminent danger. On no hypothesis save one 
that Leroy had already condemned them both to 
death in his mind could he account for such rash- 
ness. And that the blow would fall soon, before he 
had time to confer with other officers, was a corol- 
lary to the first proposition. 

"He'll surely kill me on sight," Scotty burst out. 

"Yes, he'll kill you," agreed the sheriff, "unless 
you move first." 

"Move how?" 

"Against him. Protect yourself by lining up with 
me. It's your only show on earth." 

Dailey's eyes flashed. "Then, by thunder, I ain't 
taking it! I'm no coyote, to round on my pardj 
ners." 

"I give it to you straight. He means murde{. M 

Perspiration poured from the man's face. "I'll 
light out of the country." 

The sheriff shook his head. "You'd neve*" get 
away alive. Besides, I want you for holding up 
^the Limited. The safest place for you is in jail, and 
that's where I'm going to put you. Drop that gun ! 
Quick! That's right. Now, you and I are goiag 
out of this saloon by the back door. I'm going to 
walk beside you, and we're going to laugh a-nd talk 
as if we were the best of friends, but my hand ain't 

134 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



straying any from the end of my gun. Get that, 
amigof All right. Then we'll take a little pasear." 

As Collins and his prisoner reappeared in the 
main lobby of the Gold Nugget, a Mexican slipped 
out of the back door of the gambling-house. The 
sheriff called Hawkes aside. 

"I want you to call a hack for me, Del. Bring 
it round to the back door, and arrange with the 
driver to whip up for the depot as soon as we get 
in. We ought to catch that 12:20 up-train. When 
the hack gets here just show up in the door. If you 
see Leroy or Neil hanging around the door, put 
your hand up to your tie. If the coast is clear, 
just move off to the bar and order something." 

"Sure," said Hawkes, and was off at once, though 
just a thought unsteady from his frequent libations. 

Both hands of the big clock on the wall pointed 
to twelve when Hawkes appeared again in the door- 
way at the rear of the Gold Nugget. With a wink 
at Collins, he made straight for the cocktail he 
thought he needed. 

"Now," said the sheriff, and immediately he and 
Dailey passed through the back door. i 

Instantly two shots rang out. Collins lurched 
forward to the ground, drawing his revolver as he 
fell. Scotty, twisting from his grasp, ran in a 
crouch toward the alley along the shadow of the 
buildings. Shots spattered against the wall as his 
pursuers gave chase. When the Gold Nugget vom- 
ited from its rear door a rush of humanity eager 

135 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



to see the trouble, the noise of their footsteps was 
already dying in the distance. 

Hawkes found his friend leaning against tht x back 
of the hack, his revolver smoking in his hand. 

"For God's sake, Val!" screamed Hawkes. "Did 
they get you?" 

' "Punctured my leg. That's all. But I expect 
they'll get Dailey." 

"How come you to go out when I signaled you 
to stay?" 

"Signaled me to stay, why " 

Collins stopped, unwilling to blame his friend. 
He knew now that Hawkes, having mixed hi? 
drinks earlier in the evening, had mixed his signals 
later. 

"Get me a horse, Del, and round up two or three 
of the boys. I've got to get after those fellows. 
They are the ones that held up the Limited last 
week. Find out for me what hotel they put up at 
here. I want their rooms searched. Send somebody 
round to the corrals, and let me know where they 
stabled their horses. If they left any papers or 
s saddle-bags, get them for me." 

Fifteen minutes later Collins was in the saddle 
ready for the chase, and only waiting for his volun- 
teer posse to join him. They were just starting 
when a frightened Chinaman ran into the plaza with 
the news that there had been shooting juet back of 
his laundry on the edge of town and that a man had 
been killed. 

136 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



When the sheriff reached the spot, he lowered 
himself from the saddle and limped over to the 
black mass huddled against the wall in the bright 
moonlight. He turned the riddled body over and 
looked down into the face of the dead man. It 
was that of the outlaw, Scotty Dailey. That the 
body had been thoroughly searched was evident, for 
all around him were scattered his belongings. Here 
an old letter and a sack of tobacco, its contents emp- 
tied on the ground ; there his coat and vest, the lin- 
ings of each of them ripped out and the pockets 
emptied. Even the boots and socks of the man had 
been removed, so thorough had been the search. 
Whatever the murderers had been looking for it was 
not money, since his purse, still fairly well lined 
with greenbacks, was found behind a cactus bush a 
few yards away. 

"What in time were they after?" frowned Col- 
lins. "If it wasn't his money and it sure wasn't 
what was it? I ce'tainly would like to know what 
the Wolf wanted so blamed bad. Guess I'll not 
follow Mr. Leroy just now till my leg is in better 
shape. Maybe I had better investigate a little bit 
round town first." 

The body was taken back to the Gold Nugget 
and placed on a table, pending the arrival of the 
undertaker. It chanced that Collins, looking ab- 
sently over the crowd, glimpsed a gray felt hat that 
looked familiar by reason of a frayed silver band 

137 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



round it. Underneath the hat was a Mexican, and 
him the sheriff ordered to step forward. 

"Where did you get that hat, Manuel ?" 

"My name is Jose Jose Archuleta," corrected 
the olive-hued one. 

"I ain't worrying about your name, son. What 
I want to know is where you found that hat." 

"In the alley off the plaza, senor." 

"All right. Chuck it up here." 

"Muy bien, senor." And the dusty hat was 
passed from hand to hand till it reached the sheriff. 

Collins ripped off the silver band and tore out the 
sweat-pad. It was an off chance one in a thou- 
sand but worth trying none the less. And a mo- 
ment later he knew it was the chance that won. For 
sewed to the inside of the discolored sweat-pad was 
a little strip of silk. With his knife he carefully re- 
moved the strip, and found between it and the 
leather a folded fragment of paper closely covered 
with writing. He carried this to the light, and 
made it out to be a memorandum of direction of 
some sort. Slowly he spelled out the poorly writ- 
ten words: 

From Y. N. took Unowhat. Went twenty yards strate for 
big rock. Eight feet direckly west. Fifty yards in direcksion 
of suthern Antelope Peke. Then eighteen to nerest coton- 
wood. J. H. begins hear. 

Collins read the scrawl twice before an inkling of 
its meaning came home to him. Then in a flash 
h:s brain was lighted. It was a memorandum of the 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



place where Dailey's share of the plunder was 
buried. 

His confederates had known that he had it, and 
had risked capture to make a thorough search for 
the paper. That they had not found it was due only 
to the fact that the murdered man had lost his hat 
as he scurried down the streets before them. 

The doctor, having arrived, examined the wound 
and suggested an anaesthetic. Collins laughed. 

"I reckon not, doc. You round up that lead pill 
and I'll endure the grief without knockout drops." 

While the doctor was probing for the bullet 
lodged in his leg, the sheriff studied the memoran- 
dum found in Dailey's hat. He found it blind, dis- 
appointing work, for there was no clearly indicated 
starting-point. Bit by bit he took it : 

From Y. N. took Unowhat. 

This was clear enough, so far as it went. It 
could only mean that from York Neil the writer 
had taken the plunder to hide. But where did he 
take it? From what point? A starting-point must 
be found somewhere, or the memorandum was of no 
use. Probably only Neil could supply the needed 
information, now that Dailey was dead. 

Went twenty yards strate for big rock. Eight feet direckly 
west. Fifty yards in direcksion of suthern Antelope Peke. 
Then eighteen to nerest cotonwood. 

All this was plain enough, but the last sentence 
was the puzzler. 

J. H. begins hear. 

139 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Was J. H. a person? If so, what did he begin. 
If Dailey had buried his plunder, what had J. H. 
left to do? 

But had he buried it ? Collins smiled. It was not 
likely he had handed it over to anybody else to 
hide for him. And yet 

He clapped his hand down on his knee. "By the 
jumping California frog, I've got it!" he told him- 
self. "They hid the bulk of what they got from the 
Limited all together. Went out in a bunch to hide 
it. Blind-folded each other, and took turn about 
blinding up the trail. No one of them can go get 
the loot without the rest. When they want it, every 
one of these memoranda must be Johnny-on-the-spot 
before they can dig up the mazuma. No wonder 
Wolf Leroy searched so thorough for this bit of 
paper. I'll bet a stack of blue chips against Wolf's 
chance of heaven that he's the sorest train-robber 
right this moment that ever punctured a car-win- 
dow." 

Collins laughed softly, nor had the smile died 
out of his eyes when Hawkes came into the room 
with information to the point. He had made a 
round of the corrals, and discovered that the out- 
laws' horses had been put up at Jay Hardman's 
place, a tumble-down feed-station on the edge of 
town. 

"Jay didn't take kindly to my questions," Hawkes 
explained, "but after a little rock-me-to-sleep-mother 
talk I soothed him down some, and cut the trail of 

140 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Wolf Leroy and his partners. The old man give 
me several specimens of langwidge unwashed and 
uncombed when I told him Wolf and York was out- 
laws and train-robbers. Didn't believe a word of it, 
he said. 'Twas just like the fool officers to jump an 
innocent party. I told Jay to keep his shirt on he 
could turn his wolf lose when they framed up that 
he was in it. Well, sir ! I plumb thought for a mo- 
ment he was going to draw on me when I said that. 
Say he must be the fellow that's in on that mine, 
with Leroy and York Neil. He's a big, long-haired 



Collins' eyes narrowed to slits, as they always did 
when he was thinking intensely. Were their sus- 
picions of the showman about to be justified? Did 
Jay Hardman's interest in Leroy have its source 
merely in their being birds of a feather, or was 
there a more direct community of lawlessness be- 
tween them? Was he a member of Wolf Leroy 's 
murderous gang? Three men had joined in the 
chase of Dailey, but the tracks had told him that 
only two horses had galloped from the scene of the 
murder into the night. The inference left to draw 
was that a local accomplice had joined them in the 
chase of Scotty, and had slipped back home after 
the deed had been finished. 

What more likely than that Hardman had been 
this accomplice? Hawkes said he was a big, long- 
haired fellow. So was the man that had held up 
the engineer of the Limited. He was - "J. H. 

141 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



begins hear." Like a flash the ill-written scrawl 
jumped to his sight. "J. H." was Jay Hardman. 
What luck! 

The doctor finished his work, and Collins tested 
his leg gingerly. "Del, I'm going over to have a 
little talk with the old man. Want to go along?" 

"You bet I do, Val" from Del Hawkes. 

"You mustn't walk on that leg for a week or two 
yet, Mr. Collins," the doctor explained, shaking his 
head. 

"That so, doctor? And it nothing but a nice 
clean flesh-wound! Sho! I've a deal more confi- 
dence in you than that. Ready, Del?" 

"It's at your risk then, Mr. Collins." 

"Sure." The sheriff smiled. "I'm Iking at my 
own risk, doctor. But I'd a heap rather be alive 
than daid, and take all the risk that's coming, too. 
But since you make a point of it, I'll do most of 
my walking on a bronco's back." 

They found Mr. Hardman just emerging from 
the stable with a saddle-pony when they rode into 
the corral. At a word from Collins, Hawkes took 
the precaution to close the corral gate. 

The fellow held a wary position on the farther 
side of his horse, the while he ripped out a raucous 
string of invectives. 

"Real fluent, ain't he ?" murmured Hawkes, as he 
began to circle round to flank the enemy. 

"Stay right there, Del Hawkes. Move, you red- 
haided son of a brand blotter, and I'll pump holes 

142 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



in you!" A rifle leveled across the saddle empha- 
sized his sentiments. 

"Plumb hospitable," grinned Hawkes, coming 
promptly to a halt. 

Collins rode slowly forward, his hand on the butt 
of the revolver that still lay in its scabbard. The 
Winchester covered every step of his progress, but 
he neither hastened nor faltered, though he knew 
his life hung in the balance. If his steely blue eyes 
had released for one moment the wolfish ones of the 
villain, if he had hesitated or hurried, he would have 
been shot through the head. 

But the eyes of a brave man are the king of 
weapons. Hardman's fingers itched at the trigger 
he had not the courage to pull. For such an un- 
flawed nerve he knew himself no match. 

"Keep back," he screamed. "Damn it, another 
step and I'll fire!" 

But he did not fire, though Collins rode up to 
him, dismounted, and threw the end of the rifle care- 
lessly from him. 

"Don't be rash, Hardman. I've come here to put 
you under arrest for robbing the T. P. Limited, and 
I'm going to do it." 

The indolent, contemptuous drawl, so free of even 
a suggestion of the strain the sheriff must have been 
under, completed his victory. The fellow lowered 
his rifle with a peevish oath. 

"You're barkin' up the wrong tree, Mr. Collins." 

"I guess not," retorted the sheriff easily. "Del, 

us 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



you better relieve Mr. Hardman of his ballast. He 
ain't really fit to be trusted with a weapon, and 
him so excitable. That Winchester came awful near 
going off, friend. You don't want to be so careless 
when you're playing with firearms. It's a habit 
that's liable to get you into trouble." 

Collins had not shaved death so closely without 
feeling a reaction of boyish gaiety at his adventure. 
It bubbled up in his talk like effervescing soda. 

"Now we'll go into a committee of the whole, 
gentlemen, adjourn to the stable, and have a little 
game of 'Button, button, who's got the button?* 
You first, Mr. Hardman. If you'll kindly shuck 
your coat and vest, we'll begin button-hunting." 

They diligently searched the miscreant without 
finding anything pertaining to "J. H. begins hear." 

"He's bound to have it somewhere," asseverated 
Collins. "It don't stand to reason he was making 
his getaway without that paper. We got to be more 
thorough, Del." 

Hawkes, under the direction of his friend, ripped 
out linings and tore away pockets from clothing. 
The saddle on the bronco and the saddle-blankets 
were also torn to pieces in vain. 

Finally Hawkes scratched his poll and looked 
down on the wreckage. "I hate to admit it, Val, but 
the old fox has got us beat ; it ain't on his person." 

"Not unless he's got it under his skin," agreed 
Collins, with a grin. 

144 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Maybe he ate it. Think we better operate and 
find out?" 

An idea hit the sheriff. He walked up to Hard- 
man and ordered him to open his mouth. 

The jaws set like a vise. 

Collins poked his revolver against the closed 
mouth. "Swear for us, old bird. Get a move on 
you." 

The mouth opened, and Collins inserted two fin- 
gers. When he withdrew them they brought a set 
of false teeth. Under the plate was a tiny rubber 
bag that stuck to it. Inside the bag was a paper. 
And on it was written four lines in Spanish. Those 
lines told what he wanted to know. They, too, were 
part of a direction for finding hidden treasure. 

The sheriff wired at once to Bucky, in Chihuahua. 
Translated into plain English, his cipher dispatch 
meant: "Come home at once. Trail getting red 
hot." 

But Bucky did not come. As it happened, that 
young man had other fish to fry. 



145 



CHAPTER IX. 



"ADORE HAS ONLY ONE D." 



After all, adventures are to the adventurous. In 
this prosaic twentieth century the Land of Romance 
stir beckons to eager eyes and gallant hearts. The 
rutted money-grabber may deny till he is a nerve- 
racked counting-machine, but youth, even to the end 
of time, will laugh to scorn his pessimism and ven- 
ture with elastic heel where danger and mystery of- 
fer their dubious hazards. 

So it was that Bucky and his little comrade found 
nothing of dulness in the mission to which they had 
devoted themselves. In their task of winning free- 
dom for the American immured in the Chihuahua 
dungeon they already found themselves in the heart 
of a web of intrigue, the stakes of which were so 
high as to carry life and death with them in the bal- 
ance. But for them the sun shone brightly. It 
was enough that they played the game and shared 
the risks together. The jocund morning was in 
their hearts, and brought with it an augury of suc- 
cess based on nothing so humdrum or tangible as 
reason. 

O'Connor carried with him to the grim fortress 
not only his permit for an inspection, but also a note 
from O'Halloran that was even more potent in ef- 

146 



BUCKY % O'CONNOR 



feet. For Colonel Ferdinand Gabilonda, warden of 
the prison, had a shrewd suspicion that a plot was 
under way to overthrow the unpopular administra- 
tion of Megales, and though he was an office-holder 
under the present government he had no objection 
to ingratiating himself with the opposition, provid- 
ing it could be done without compromising himself 
openly. In other words, the warden was sitting on 
the fence waiting to see which way the cat would 
jump. If the insurgents proved the stronger party, 
he meant to throw up his hat and shout "Viva Val- 
dez." On the other hand, if the government party 
crushed them he would show himself fussily active 
in behalf of Megales. Just now he was exerting 
all his diplomacy to maintain a pleasant relationship 
with both. Since it was entirely possible that the 
big Irishman O'Halloran might be the man on 
horseback within a very few days, the colonel was 
all suave words and honeyed smiles to his friend the 
ranger. 

Indeed he did him the unusual honor of a per- 
sonally conducted inspection. Gabilonda was a fat 
little man, with a soft, purring voice and a pompous 
manner. He gushed with the courteous volubility 
of his nation, explaining with great gusto this and 
that detail of the work. Bucky gave him outwardly 
a deferent ear, but his alert mind and eyes were 
scanning the prisoners they saw. The ranger was 
trying to find in one of these scowling, defiant faces 

147 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



some resemblance to the picture his mind had made 
of Henderson. 

But Bucky looked in vain. If the man he wanted 
was among these he had changed beyond recogni- 
tion. In the end he was forced to ask Gabilonda 
plainly if he would not take him to see David Hen- 
derson, as he knew a man in Arizona who was an 
old friend of his, and he would like to be able to 
tell him that he had seen his friend. 

Henderson was breaking stone when O'Connor 
got his first glimpse of him. He continued to swing 
his hammer listlessly, without looking up, when 
the door opened to let in the warden and his guests. 
But something in the ranger's steady gaze drew his 
eyes. They were dull eyes, and sullen, but when 
he saw that Bucky was an American, the fire of in- 
telligence flashed into them. 

"May I speak to him ?" asked O'Connor. 

"It is against the rules, senor, but if you will be 

brief " The colonel shrugged, and turned his 

back to them, in order not to see. It must be said 
for Gabilonda that his capacity for blinking what he 
did not think it judicious to see was enormous. 

"You are David Henderson, are you not?" the 
ranger asked, in a low voice. 

Surprise filtered into the dull eyes. "That was 
my name," the man answered bitterly. "I have a 
number now." 

"I come from Webb Mackenzie to get you out of 
this," the ranger said. 

148 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The man's eyes were no longer dull now, but 
flaming with hatred. "Curse him, I'll take nothing 
from his hands. For fifteen years he has let me rot 
in hell without lifting a hand for me." 

"He thought you dead. It can all be explained. 
It was only last week that the mystery of your dis- 
appearance was solved." 

"Then why didn't he come himself? It was to 
save his little girl I got myself into this place. If 
I had been in his shoes I would have come if I'd 
had to crawl on my hands and knees." 

"He doesn't know yet you are here. I wrote him 
simply that I knew where you were, and then I came 
at once." Bucky glanced round warily at the fat 
colonel gazing placidly out of the barred window. 
"I mean to rescue you, and I knew if he were here 
his impulsiveness would ruin everything." 

"Do you mean it? For God's sake! don't lie to 
me. If there's no hope for me, don't say there is." 
The prisoner's voice shook and his hands trembled. 
He was only the husk of the man he had been, but 
it did Bucky's heart good to see that the germ of 
life was still in him. Back in Arizona, on the Rock- 
ing Chair Ranch, with the free winds of the plains 
beating on his face, he would pick up again the old 
strands of his broken life, would again learn to love 
the lowing of cattle and the early morning call of 
the hooter to his mate. 

"I mean it. As sure as I stand here I'll get you 
out, or, if I don't, Webb Mackenzie will. We're 

149 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



calling the matter to the attention of the United 
States Government, but we are not going to wait 
till that time to free you. Keep up your courage, 
man. It is only for a little time now." 

Tears leaped to the prisoner's eyes. He had 
been a game man in the dead years that were past, 
none gamer in Texas, and he could still face his 
jailers with an impassive face; but this first kindly 
word from his native land in fifteen years to the 
man buried alive touched the fount of his emotions. 
He turned away and leaned against the grating of 
his cell, his head resting on his forearm. "My God ! 
man, you don't know what it means to me. Some- 
times I think I shall go mad and rave. After all 

these years But I know you'll fail It's 

too good to be true," he finished quietly. 

"I'll not fail, though I may be delayed. But I 
can't say more. Gabilonda is coming back. Next 
time I see you it will be to take you out to freedom. 
Think of that always, and believe it." 

Gabilonda bowed urbanely. "If the sefior has 
seen all he cares to of this department we will re- 
turn to the office," he suggested suavely. 

"Certainly, colonel. I can't appreciate too much 
your kindness in allowing me to study your system 
so carefully." 

"Any friend of my friend the Senor O'Halloran 
is cherished deeply in my heart," came back the 
smiling colonel, with a wave of his plump, soft hand. 

"I am honored, sir, to receive such consideration 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



at the hands of so distinguished a soldier as Colonel 
Gabilonda," bowed Bucky gravely, in his turn, with 
the most flowery Spanish he could muster. 

There was another half -hour of the mutual ex- 
change of compliments before O'Connor could get 
away. Alphonse and Gaston were fairly outdone, 
for the Arizonian, with a smile hidden deep behind 
the solemnity of his blue eyes, gave as good as he 
got. When he was at last fairly in the safety of 
his own rooms he gave way to limp laughter while 
describing to his little friend that most ceremonious 
parting. 

"He pressed me to his manly bay window, Curly, 
and allowed he was plumb tickled to death to have 
met me. Says I, coming back equal strong, 'twas 
the most glorious day of my life." 

"Oh, I know you," answered young Hardman, 
with a smile. 

"A friend* of his friend O'Halloran " 

"Mr. O'Halloran was here while you were away. 
He seemed very anxious to see you; said he would 
call again in an hour. I think it must be impor- 
tant." 

Came at that instant O'Halloran's ungentle knock, 
on the heels of which his red head came through 
the open door. 

"You're the very lad I'm wanting to see, Bucky," 
he announced, and followed this declaration by lock- 
ing all the doors and beckoning him to the center 
of the room. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Is that tough neck of yours aching again, Red- 
dy ?" inquired his friend whimsically. 

"It is that, me bye. There's the very divil to 
pay," he whispered. 

"Cough it out, Mike/' 

"That tyrant Megales is onto our game. Some- 
body's leaked, or else he has a spy in our councils 
as we have in his, the ould scoundrel." 

"I see. Your spy has told you that his spy has 
reported to him " 

"That the guns are to be brought in to-night. He 
has sent out a guard to bring them in safely to him. 
If he gets them, our game is up, me son, and you 
can bet your last nickle on that." 

"If he gets them! Is there a chance for us?" 

"Glory be! there is. You see, he doesn't know 
that we know what he has done. For that reason 
he sent out only a guard of forty men. If he sent 
more we would suspect what he was doing, ye see. 
That is the way the old fox reasoned. But forty 
they were able to slip out of the city on last 
night's train in civilian's clothes and their arms in a 
couple of coffins." 

"Why didn't he send a couple of hundred men 
openly, and at the same time arrest you all?" 

"That doesn't suit his book at all. For one thing, 
he probably doesn't know all of us, and he doesn't 
want to bag half of us and throw the rest into im- 
mediate rebellion. It's his play not to force the 
issue until after the election, Bucky. He controls 

152 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



all the election machinery and will have himself de- 
clared reflected, the old scamp, notwithstanding 
that he's the most unpopular man in the State. To 
precipitate trouble now would be just foolishness, ' 
he argues. So he'll just capture our arms, and after 
the election give me and my friends quiet hell. 
Nothing public, you know just unfortunate assas- 
sinations that he will regret exceedingly, me bye. 
But I have never yit been assassinated, and, on prin- 
ciple, I object to being trated so. It's very destruc- 
tive to a man's future usefulness." 

"And so ?" laughed the ranger. 

"And so we've arranged to take a few -lads up the 
line and have a train hold-up. I'm the robber-in- 
chief. Would ye like to be second in command of 
the lawless ruffians, me son?" 

Bucky met his twinkling eye gaily. "Mr. O'Con- 
nor is debarred from taking part in such an out- 
rageous affair by international etiquette, but he 
knows a gipsy lad would be right glad to join, I 
reckon." 

"Bully for him. If you'll kindly have him here 
I'll come around and collect him this evening at 
eight-thirty sharp." 

"I hope you'll provide a pleasant entertainment 
for him." 

"We'll do our best," grinned the revolutionist. 
"Music provided by Megales' crack military band. 
A lively and enjoyable occasion guaranteed to all 
who attend. Your friend will meet some of the 

153 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



smartest officers in the State. It promises to be a 
most sumptuous affair/' 

"Then my friend accepts with pleasure." 

After the conspirator had gone, Frank spoke up. 
"You wouldn't go away with him and leave me here 
alone, would you?" 

"I ce'tainly shouldn't take you with me, kid. I 
don't want my little friend all shot up by greasers." 

"If you're going, I want to go, too. Supposing 
if anything were to happen to you, what could I 
do?" 

"Leave the country by the next train. Those are 
the orders." 

"You're always talking about a square deal. Do 
you think that is one? I might say that I don't 
want you shot. You don't care anything about my 
feelings." The soft voice had a little break in it 
that Bucky loved. 

He walked across to his partner, that rare, tender 
smile of his in his eyes. "If I'm always talking 
about a square deal I reckon I have got to give you 
one. Now, what would you think a square deal, 
Curly ? Would it be square for me to let my friend 
O'Halloran stand all the risk of this and then me 
take the reward when Henderson has been freed by 
him? Would that be your notion of the right 
thing?" 

"I didn't say that, though I don't see why you 
have to mix yourself up in his troubles. Why 

154 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



should you go out and kill these soldiers that haven't 
injured you?" 

"I'm not going to kill any of them," he smiled. 
"Besides, that isn't the way I look at it. This fel- 
low Megales is a despot. He has made out to steal 
the liberty of the people from them. President 
Diaz can't interfere because the old rascal governor 
does everything with that smooth, oily way of his 
under cover of law. It's up to some of the people 
to put up a good strong kick for themselves. I ain't 
a bit sorry to give them the loan of my foot while 
they are doing it." 

"Then can't I go, too? I don't want to be left 
alone here and you away fighting." 

Bucky's eyes gleamed. He dared an experi- 
ment in an indifferent drawl. "Whyfor don't you 
want to stay alone, kid? Are you afraid for your- 
self or for me?" 

His partner's cheeks were patched with roses. 
Shyly the long, thick lashes lifted and let the big 
brown eyes meet his blue ones. "Maybe I'm afraid 
for both of us." 

"Would you care if one of their pills happened 
along in the scrimmage and put me out of business? 
Honest, would you?" 

"You haven't any right to talk that way. It's 
cruel," was the reply that burst from the pretty lips, 
and he noticed that at his suggestion the roses had 
died from soft cheeks. 

"Well, I won't talk that way any more, little part- 

155 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



ner," he answered gaily, taking the small hand in 
his. "For reasons good. I'm fireproof. The 
Mexican bullet hasn't been cast yet that can find 
Bucky O'Connor's heart." 

"But you mustn't think that, either, and be reck- 
less," was the next injunction. The shy laugh rang 
like music. "That's why I want to go along, to see 
that you behave yourself properly." 

"Oh, I'll behave," he laughed ; for the young man 
found it very easy to be happy when those sweet 
eyes were showing concern for him. "I've got sev- 
eral good reasons why I don't aim to get bumped 
off just yet. Heaps of first-rate reasons. I'll tell 
you what some of them are one of these days," he 
dared to add. 

"You had better tell me now." The gaze that fell 
before his steady eyes was both shy and eager. 

"No, I reckon I'll wait, Curly," he answered, 
turning away with a long breath. "Well, we better 
go out and get some grub, tortillas and frijoles, 
don't you think ?" 

"Just as you like." The lad's breath was coming 
a little fast. They had been on the edge of some 
moment of intimacy that Bucky 's partner both 
longed for and dreaded. "But you have not told 
me yet whether I can go with you." 

"You can't. I'm sorry. I'd like first-rate to take 
you, if you want to go, but I can't do it. I hate to 
disappoint you if you're set on it, but I've got to, 
kid. Anything else you want I'll be glad to do." 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



He added this last because Frank looked so broken- 
hearted about it. 

"Very well." Swift as a flash came the demand: 
"Tell me these heaps of first-rate reasons you were 
mentioning just now." 

Under the sun-tan he flushed. "I reckon I'll have 
to make another exception, Curly. Those reasons 
ain't ripe yet for telling." 

"Then if you are if anything happens I'll never 
know them. And you promised you would tell me 
you, who pretend to hate a liar so," she scoffed. 

"Would it do if I wrote those reasons and left 
them in a sealed envelope? Then in case anything 
happened you could open it and satisfy that robust 
curiosity of yours." He recognized that he had 
trapped himself, and he was making the best bargain 
left him. 

"You may write them, if you like. But I'm go- 
ing to open the letter, anyway. The reasons belong 
to me now. You promised." 

"I'll make a new deal with you, then," he smiled. 
"I'll take awful good care of myself to-night if 
you'll promise not to open the envelope for two 
weeks unless well, unless that something happens 
that we ain't expecting." 

"Call it a week, and it's a bargain." 

"Better say when we're back across the line again. 
That may be inside of three days, if everything goes 
well," he threw in as a bait. 

157 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Done. I'm to open the letter when we cross the 
line into Texas." 

Bucky shook the little hand that was offered him 
and wished mightily that he had the right to cele- 
brate with more fervent demonstrations. 

That afternoon the ranger wrote with a good deal 
of labor the letter he had promised. It appeared to 
be a difficult thing for him to deliver himself even 
on paper of those good and sufficient reasons. He 
made and destroyed no less than half a dozen open- 
ings before at last he was fairly off. Meanwhile, 
Master Frank, busy over some alterations in Ducky's 
gypsy suit, took pleasure in deriding with that sweet 
voice the harassed correspondent. 

"It might be a love letter from the pains you take 
with it. Would you like me to come and help you 
with it?" the sewer railed merrily. 

"I ain't used to letter writing much," apologized 
the scribe, wiping his bedewed brow, which had sud- 
denly gone a shade more flushed. 

"Apparently not. I expect, from the time you 
give it, the result will be a literary classic." 

"Don't you disturb me, Curly, or I'll never get 
done," implored the tortured ranger. 

"You're doing well. You've only been an hour 
and a half on six lines," the tormentor mocked. 

Womanlike, she was quite at her ease, since he 
was very far indeed from being at his. Yet she had 
a problem of her own she was trying to decide. 

158 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Had he discovered, after all, that she was not a 
boy, and had his reasons the ones he was trying 
to tell in that disturbing letter anything to do with 
th'at discovery? Such a theory accounted for sev- 
eral things she had noticed in him of late. There 
was an added respect in his manner for her. He 
never now invaded the room recognized as hers 
without a specific invitation, nor did he seem any 
longer to chafe at the little personal marks of fas- 
tidiousness that had at first appeared to annoy him. 
To be sure, he ordered her about, just as he had 
been in the habit of doing at first. But it was con- 
ceivable that this might be a generous blind to cover 
up his knowledge of her sex. 

"How do you spell guessed one s or two?" he 
presently asked, out of the throes of composition. 

She spelled it, and added demurely : "Adore has 
only one d." 

Bucky laid down his pen and pretended to glare 
at him. "You young rascal, what do you mean 
by bothering me like that ? Act like that, you young 
imp, and you'll never grow up to be a gentleman." 

Their gUnces caught and held, the minds of each 
of them butly over that last prediction of his. For 
one long instant masks were off and both were try- 
ing to find an answer to a question in the eyes op- 
posite. Then voluntarily each gaze released the 
other in a confusion of sweet shame. For the beat- 
ing of a lash, soul had looked into naked soul, all 
disguise stripped from them. She knew that he 

159 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



knew. Yet in that instant when his secret was sur- 
prised from him another secret, sweeter than the 
morning song of birds, sang its way into both their 
hearts. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE HOLD-UP OF THE M. C. P. FLYER. 

Agua Negra is twelve miles from Chihuahua as 
the crow flies, but if one goes by rail one twists 
round thirty sinuous miles of rough mountainous 
country in the descent from the pass to the capital 
of the State. The ten men who slipped singly or 
by twos out of the city in the darkness that evening 
and met at the rendezvous of the Santa Dolorosa 
mission did not travel by rail to the pass, but fol- 
lowed a horseback trail which was not more than 
half the distance. 

At the mission O'Halloran and his friend found 
gathered half a dozen Mexicans, one or two of them 
tough old campaigners, the rest young fellows eager 
for the excitement of their first active service. 

"Is Juan Valdez here yet?" asked O'Halloran, 
peering around in the gloom. 

"Not yet ; nor Manuel Garcia," answered a young 
fellow. 

Bucky was introduced to those present under the 
name of Alessandro Perdoza, and presently also to 
the two missing members of the party who arrived 
together a few moments later. Juan Valdez was the 
son of the candidate who was opposing the re- 
election of Megales, and Manuel Garcia was his 

161 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



bosom friend, and the young man to whom his sis- 
ter was engaged. They were both excellent types 
of the honorable aristocratic young Mexican. They 
were lightly built, swarthy young men, possessed of 
that perfect grace and courtesy which can be found 
at its best in the Spanish races. Gay, handsome 
young cavaliers as they were, filled with the pride 
of family, Bucky thought them almost ideal com- 
panions for such a harebrained adventure as this. 
The ranger was a social democrat to the marrow. 
He had breathed in with the Southwest breezes the 
conviction that every man must stand on his own 
bottom, regardless of adventitious circumstance, but 
he was not fool enough to think all men equal. It 
had been his experience that some men, by grace of 
the strength in them, were born to be masters and 
others by their weakness to be servants. He knew 
that the best any civilization can offer a man is a 
chance. Given that, it is up to every man to find his 
own niche. 

But though he had no sense of deference to what 
is known as good blood, Bucky had too much horse 
sense to resent the careless, half-indifferent greet- 
ing which these two young sprouts of aristocracy 
bestowed on the rest of the party. He understood 
that it was the natural product of their education 
and of that of the others. 

"Are we all here?" asked Garcia. 

"All here," returned O'Halloran briskly. "Rod- 
rigo will guide the party. I ride next with Sefior 

162 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Garcia. Perdoza and Senor Valdez will bring up 
the rear. Forward, gentlemen, and may the Holy 
Virgin bring a happy termination to our adventure." 
He spoke in Mexican, as they all did, though for the 
next two hours conversation was largely suspended, 
owing to the difficulty of the precipitous trail they 
were following. 

Coming to a bit of the road where they were 
able to ride two abreast, O'Connor made comment 
on the smallness of their number. "O'Halloran 
must have a good deal of confidence in his men. 
Forty to ten is rather heavy odds, is it not, senor?" 

"There are six more to join us at the pass. The 
wagons have gone round by the road and the drivers 
will assist in the attack." 

"Of course it is all in the surprise. I have seen 
three men hold up a train with five hundred people 
on it. Once I knew a gang to stick up a treasure 
train with three heavily armed guards protecting 
the gold. They got them right, with the drop on 
them, and it was good-by to the mazuma." 

"Yes, if they have had any warning or if our 
plans slip a cog anywhere we shall be repulsed to a 
certainty." 

By the light of a moon struggling out from be- 
hind rolling clouds Bucky read eleven-thirty on his 
watch when the party reached Agua Negra. It was 
still thirty minutes before the Flyer was due, and 
O'Halloran disposed his forces with explicit direc- 
tions as to the course to be followed by each de- 

163 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



tail. Very rapidly he sketched his orders as to the 
present disposition of the wagons and the groups of 
attackers. When the train slowed down to remove 
the obstacles they placed on the track, Garcia and 
another young man were to command parties cover- 
ing the train from both sides, while Rodrigo and 
one of the drivers were to cover the engineer and 
the fireman. 

O'Halloran himself, with Bucky and young Val- 
dez, rode rapidly in the direction of the approaching 
train. At Concho the engine would take on water 
for the last stiff climb of the ascent, and here he 
meant to board the train unnoticed, just as it was 
pulling out, in order to emphasize the surprise at 
the proper moment and render resistance useless. 
If the troopers were all together in the car next the 
one with the boxes of rifles, he calculated that they 
might perhaps be taken unawares so sharply as to 
render bloodshed unnecessary. 

Concho was two miles from the summit, and 
when the three men galloped down to the little sta- 
tion the headlight of the approaching engine was al- 
ready visible. They tied their horses in the mesquit 
and lurked in the thick brush until the engine had 
taken water and the signal for the start was given. 
Then O'Halloran and Bucky slipped across in the 
darkness to the train and swung themselves to the 
platform of the last car. To Valdez, very much 
against his will, had fallen the task of taking the 
horses back to Agua Negra. Since the track wound 

164 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



round the side of the mountain in such a way as to 
cover five miles in making the summit from Concho, 
the young Mexican had ample time to get back to 
the scene of action before the train arrived. 

The big Irishman and Bucky rested quietly in the 
shadows of the back platform for some time. Then 
they entered the last car, passed through it, and on 
to the next. In the sleeper they met the conductor, 
but O'Halloran quietly paid their fares and passed 
forward. As they had hoped, the whole detail of 
forty men were in a special car next to the one con- 
taining the arms consigned to Michael O'Halloran, 
importer of pianos. 

Lieutenant Chaves, in charge of the detail sent out 
to see that the rifles reached Governor Megales in- 
stead of the men who had paid for them, was find- 
ing his assignment exceedingly uninteresting. 
There was at Chihuahua a certain black-eyed dona 
with whom he had expected to enjoy a pleasant 
evening's flirtation. It was confounded luck that 
it had fallen to him to take charge of the escort for 
the guns. He had endured in consequence an un- 
pleasant day of dusty travel and many hours of 
boredom through the evening. Now he was cross 
and sleepy, which latter might also be said of the 
soldiers in general. 

He was connected with a certain Arizona outfit 
which of late had been making money very rapidly. 
If one more coup like the last could be pulled off 
safely by his friend Wolf Leroy he would resign 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



from the army and settle down. It would then no 
longer be necessary to bore himself with such de- 
tails as this. 

There was, of course, no necessity for alertness 
in his present assignment. The opposition was 
scarcely mad enough to attempt taking the guns 
from forty armed men. Chaves devoutly hoped 
they would, in order that he might get a little glory, 
at least, out of the affair. But of course such an ex- 
pectation would be ridiculous. No, the journey 
would continue to be humdrum to the end, he was 
wearily assured of that, and consequently attempted 
to steal a half hour's sleep while propped against 
a window with his feet in the seat opposite. 

The gallant lieutenant was awakened by a cessa- 
tion of the drumming of the wheels. Opening his 
eyes, he saw that the train was no longer in motion. 
He also saw and his consciousness of that fact was 
much more acute the rim of a revolver about six 
inches from his forehead. Behind the revolver 
was a man, a young Spanish gypsy, and he was of- 
fering the officer very good advice. 

"Don't move, sir. No cause for being uneasy. 
Just sit quiet and everything will be serene. No, 
I wouldn't reach for that revolver, if I were you." 

Chaves cast a hurried eye down the car, and at 
the end of it beheld the huge Irishman, O'Halloran, 
dominating the situation with a pair of revolvers. 
Chaves' lambs were ranged on either side of the car, 
their hands in the air. Back came the lieutenant's 

166 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



gaze to the impassive face in front of him. Taken 
by and lar^e, it did not seem an auspicious moment 
for garnering glory. He decided to take the advice 
bestowed on him. 

"Better put your hands up and vote with your 
men. Then you won't be tempted to play with your 
gun and commit suicide. That's right, sir. I'll re- 
lieve you of it if you don't object." 

Since the lieutenant had no objections to offer, 
the smiling gypsy possessed himself of the revolver. 
At the same instant two more men appeared at the 
end of the car. One of them was Juan Valdez and 
another one of the mule-skinners. Simultaneously 
with their entrance rang out a most disconcerting 
fusillade of small arms in the darkness without. 
Megales' military band, as O'Halloran had face- 
tiously dubbed them to the ranger, arrived at the 
impression that there were about a thousand insur- 
gents encompassing the train. Chaves choked with 
rage, but ine rest of the command yielded to the 
situation very tranquilly, with no desire to offer 
themselves as targets to this crackling explosion of 
Colts. Muy bien! After all, Valdez was a better 
man to serve than the fox Megales. 

Swiftly Valdez and the wagon driver passed down 
the car and gathered the weapons from the seats of 
the troopers. Raising a window, they passed them 
out to their friends outside. Meanwhile, the sound 
of an axe could be heard battering at the door of the 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



next car, and presently the crash of splintering wood 
announced that an entrance had been forced. 

"Breaking furniture, I reckon," drawled Bucky, in 
English, for the moment forgetful of the part 
was playing. "I hope they'll be all right careful of v 
them pianos and not mishandle them so they'll get 
out of tune." 

"So, sefior, you are American," said Chaves, in 
English, with a sinister smile. 

O'Connor shrugged, answering in Spanish: "I 
am Romany. Who shall say whether American, 
or Spanish, or Bohemian? All nations call to me, 
but none claim me, sefior." 

The lieutenant continued to smile his meaning 
grin. "Yet you are American," he persisted. 

"Oh, as you please. I am what you will, lieu- 
tenant." 

"You speak the English like a native." 

"You are complimentary." 

Chaves lifted his eyebrows. "For believing that 
you are in costume, that you are wearing a dis- 
guise, Mr. American?" 

Bucky laughed outright, and offered a gay re- 
tort. "Believe me, lieutenant, I am no more dis- 
guised as a gypsy than you are as a soldier." 

The Mexican officer flushed with anger at the 
suggestion of contempt in the careless voice. His 
generalship was discredited. He had been outwitted 
and made to yield without a blow. But to have it 

168 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



flung in his teeth with such a debonair insolence 
threw him into a fury. 

"If you and I ever meet on equal terms, senor, 
God pity you," he ground out between his set jaws. 

Bucky bowed, answering the furious anger in the 
man's face as much as his words. "I shall try to 
be careful not to offer myself a sheath for a knife 
some dark night," he scoffed. 

A whistle blew, and then again. The revolver of 
Bucky rang out almost on the same instant as those 
of O'Halloran. Under cover of the smoke they 
slipped out of the car just as Rodrigo leaped down 
from the cab of the engine. Slowly the train began 
to back down the incline in the same direction from 
which it had come. The orders given the engineer 
were to move back at a snail's pace until he reached 
Concho again. There he was to remain for two 
hours. That Chaves would submit to this O'Hal- 
loran did not for a moment suspect. 

But the track would be kept obstructed till six 
o'clock in the morning, and a sufficient guard would 
wait in the underbrush to see that the right of way 
was not cleared. In the meantime the wagons would 
be pushing toward Chihuahua as fast as they could 
be hurried, and the rest of the riders would guard 
them till they separated on the outskirts of the town 
and slipped quietly in. In order to forestall any 
telegraphic communication between Lieutenant 
Chaves and his superiors in the city, the wires had 

169 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



been cut. On the face of it, the guns seemed to 
be safe. Only one thing had O'Halloran forgotten. 
Eight miles across the hills from Concho ran the line 
of the Chihuahua Northern. 



170 



CHAPTER XL 
"STONE WALLS DO NOT A PRISON MAKE." 

The two young Spanish aristocrats rode in ad- 
vance of the convoy on the return trip, while O'Hal- 
loran and Bucky brought up the rear. The roads 
were too rough to permit of rapid travel, but the 
teams were pushed as fast as it could safely be done 
in the dark. It was necessary to get into the city 
before daybreak, and also before word reached 
Megales of the coup his enemies had made. O'Hal- 
loran calculated that this could be done, but he did 
not want to run his margin of time too fine. 

"When the governor finds we have recaptured the 
arms, will he not have all your leaders arrested to- 
day and thrown into the prison ?" asked the ranger. 

"He will if he can lay hands on them. But he 
had better catch his hare before he cooks it. I'm 
thinking that none of us will be at home to-day 
when his men come with a polite invitation to go 
along with them/' 

i "Then he'll spend all day strengthening his posi- 
tion. With this warning he will be a fool if he 
can't make himself secure before night, when the 
army is on his side." 

"Oh, the army is on his side, is it? Now, what 
would you say if most of the officers were ready 

J7I 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



to come over to us as soon as we declare ourselves ? 
And ye speak of strengthening his position. The 
beauty of his position, me lad, from our point of 
view, is that he doesn't know his weak places. He'll 
be the most ondeceived man in the State when the 
test comes unless something goes wrong." 

"When do you propose to attack the prison?" 

"To-night. To-morrow is election day, and we 
want all the byes we can on hand to help us out." 

"Do you expect to throw the prison doors wide 
open let every scoundrel in Chihuahua loose on 
the public?" 

"We couldn't do that, since half of them are 
loose already," retorted O'Halloran dryly. "And 
as for the rest we expect to make a selection, me 
son, to weed out a few choice ruffians and keep 
them behind the bars. But if ye know anything 
about the prisons of this country, you're informed, 
sir, that half the poor fellows behind bars don't be- 
long there so much as the folk that put them there. 
I'm Irish, as ye are yourself, and it's me instinct to 
fight for the under dog. Why shouldn't the lads 
rotting behind those walls have another chance at 
the game? By the mother of Moses! they shall, if 
Mike O'Halloran has anything to say about it." 

"You ce'tainly conduct your lawful elections in a 
beautifully lawless way," grinned the ranger. 

"And why not? Isn't the law made for man?" 

"For which man Megales ?" 

"In order to give the greatest liberty to each in- 
172 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



dividual man. But here comes young Valdez riding 
back as if he were in a bit of a hurry." 

The filibuster rode forward and talked with the 
young man for a few minutes in a low voice. When 
he rejoined Bucky he nodded his head toward the 
young man, who was again headed for the front of 
the column. "There's the best lad in the State of 
Chihuahua. He's a Mexican, all right, but he has 
as much sense as a white man. He doesn't mix is- 
sues. Now, the lad's in love with Carmencita Me- 
gales, the prettiest black-eyed lass in Mexico, and, 
by the same token, so is our friend Chaves, who just 
gave us the guns a little while ago. But Valdez is 
a man from the heel of him to the head. Miss 
Carmencita has her nose in the air because Juan 
doesn't snuggle up to ould Megales and flatter him 
the same way young Chaves does. So the lad is 
persona non grata at court with the lady, and that 
tin soldier who gave up the guns without a blow 
gets the lady's smiles. But it's my opinion that, for 
all her haughty ways, miss would rather have our 
honest fighting lad than a roomful of the imitation 
toy kind." 

A couple of miles from the outskirts of the city 
the wagons separated, and each was driven to the 
assigned place for the hiding of the rifles till night. 
At the edge of the town Bucky made arrangements 
to join his friend again at the monument in the cen- 
tre of the plaza within fifteen minutes. He was to 
bring his little partner with him, and O'Halloran 

173 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



was to take them to a place where they might lie in 
hiding till the time set for the rising. 

"I would go with ye, but I want to take charge 
of the unloading. Don't lose any time, lad, for as 
soon as Megales learns of what has happened his 
fellows will scour the town for every mother's son 
of us. Of course you have been under surveillance, 
and it's likely he'll try to bag you with the rest of 
us. It was a great piece of foolishness me forget- 
ting about the line of the Chihuahua Northern and 
its telegraph. But there's a chance Chaves has for- 
got, too. Anyway, get back as soon as you can; 
after we're hidden, it will be like looking for a 
needle in a haystack to put his fat finger on us." 

Bucky went singing up the stairway of the hotel 
to his room. He was keen to get back to his little 
friend after the hazards of the night, eager to see 
the brown eyes light up with joy at sight of him and 
to hear the soft voice with the trailing inflection 
drawl out its shy questions. So he took the stairs 
three at a time, with a song on his lips and in his 
heart. 

"'Tis you shall reign, shall reign alone, 

My dark Rosaleen ! 

My own Rosaleen! 

'Tis you shall have the golden throne, 
'Tis you shall reign, and reign alone, 

My dark Rosaleen!" 

O'Connor, somewhat out of breath, was hum- 
ming the last line when he passed through the 
gypsy apartments and opened his own door, to meet 

174 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



one of the surprises of his life. Yet he finished the 
verse, though he was looking down the barrels of 
two revolvers in the hands of a pair of troopers, 
and though Lieutenant Chaves, very much at his 
ease, sat on the table dangling his feet. 

Bucky's sardonic laughter rang out gayly. "I 
ce'tainly didn't expect to meet you here, lieutenant. 
May I ask if you have wings ?" 

"Not exactly, senor. But it is quite possible you 
may have before twenty- four hours," came the swift 
retort. 

"Interesting, if true," remarked the ranger care- 
lessly, tossing his gloves on the bed. "And may I 
ask to what I am indebted for the pleasure of a 
visit from you?" 

"I am returning your call, sir, and at the very 
earliest opportunity. I assure you that I have been 
in the city less than ten minutes, Senor whatever- 
you-choose-to-call-yourself. My promptness I leave 
you to admire." 

"Oh, you're prompt enough, lieutenant. I no- 
ticed that when you handed over your gun to me 
so lamblike." He laughed it out flippantly, buoy- 
antly, though it was on his mind to wonder whether 
the choleric little officer might not kill him out of 
hand for it. 

But Chaves merely folded his arms and looked 
sternly at the American with a manner very theatri- 
cal. "Miguel, disarm the prisoner," he ordered. 

175 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"So I'm a prisoner," mused Bucky aloud. "And 
whyfor, lieutenant?" 

"Stirring up insurrection against the government. 
The prisoner will not talk," decreed his captor, a 
frowning gaze attempting to quell him. 

But here the popinjay officer reckoned without 
his host, for that gentleman had the most indomit- 
able eyes in Arizona. It was not necessary for him 
to stiffen his will to meet the other's attack. His 
manner was still lazy, his gaze almost insolent in 
its indolence, but somewhere in the blue eyes was 
that which told Chaves he was his master. The 
Mexican might impotently rebel and did ; he might 
feed his vanity with the swiftness of his revenge, 
but in his heart he knew that the moment was not 
his, after all, or that it was his at least with no 
pleasure unalloyed. 

"The prisoner will not talk," repeated Bucky, 
with drawling mockery. "Sure he will, general. 
There's several things he's awful curious to know. 
One of them is how you happen to be Johnnie-on- 
the-spot so opportune." 

The lieutenant's dignity melted before his vanity. 
Having so excellent a chance to sun the latter, he 
delivered himself of an oration. After all, silent 
contempt did not appear to be the best weapon to 
employ with this impudent fellow. 

"Sefior, no Chaves ever forgets an insult. Last 
night you, a common American, insulted me grossly 
me, Lieutenant Ferdinand Chaves, me, of the 

176 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



bluest Castilian blood." He struck himself dra- 
matically on the breast. "I submit, senor, but I 
vow revenge. I promised myself to spit on you, to 
spit on your Stars and Stripes, the flag of a nation 
of dirty traders. Ha! I do so now in spirit. The 
hour I have long' for is come." 

Bucky took one step forward. His eyes had 
grown opaque and flinty. "Take care, you cur." 

Swiftly Chaves hurried on without pressing the 
point. He had a prophetic vision of his neck in 
the vise grip of those brown, sinewy hands, and, 
though his men would afterward kill the man, small 
good would he get from that if the life were al- 
ready squeezed out of him. 

"And so what do I do? I think, and having 
thought I act with the swiftness of a Chaves. How ? 
I ride across country. I seize a hand car. My men 
pump me to town on the roadbed of the Northern. 
I telephone to the hotels and find where Americans 
are staying. Then I come here like the wind, arrest 
your friend, and send him to prison, arrest you also 
and send you to the gallows." 

"That's real kind of you, general," replied Bucky, 
in irony sportive. "But you really are putting your- 
self out too much for me. I reckon I'll not trouble 
you to go so far. By the way, did I understand 
you to say you had arrested a friend of mine?" 

Indifferently he flung out the question, if his 
voice were index of his feeling, but his heart was 
pumping faster than it normally ought. 

177 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"He is in prison, where you will shortly join him. 
Soldiers, to the commandant with your captive." 

If Bucky had had any idea of attempting escape, 
he now abandoned it at once. The place of all 
places where he most ardently desired to be at that 
moment was in the prison with his little comrade. 
His desire marched with that of Chaves so far, and 
the latter could not hurry him there too fast to suit 
him. 

One feature of the situation made him chuckle, 
and that was this : The fiery lieutenant, intent first 
of all on his revenge, had given first thought to the 
capture of the man who had made mincemeat of 
his vanity and rendered him a possible subject of 
ridicule to his fellow officers. So eager had he been 
to accomplish this that he had failed as yet to notify 
his superiors of what had happened, with the result 
that the captured guns had been safely smuggled in 
and hidden. Bucky thought he could trust O'Hallo- 
ran to see that he did not stay long behind bars and 
bolts, unless indeed the game went against that san- 
guine and most cheerful plotter. In which event 
well, that was a contingency that would certainly 
prove embarrassing to the ranger. It might indeed 
turn out to be a good deal more than embarrassing 
in the end. The thing that he had done would bear 
a plain name if the Megales faction v:on the day 
and the punishment for it would be easy to guess. 
But it was not of himself that O'Connor was think- 
ing. He had been in tight places before and 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



squeezed safely out. But his little friend, the one 
he loved better than his life, must somehow be ex- 
tricated, no matter how the cards fell. 

The ranger was taken at once before General 
Carlo, the ranking army officer at Chihuahua, and, 
after a sharp preliminary examination, was com- 
mitted to prison. The impression that O'Connor 
got of Carlo was not a reassuring one. The man 
was a military despot, apparently, and a stickler for 
discipline. He had a hanging face, and, in the 
Yaqui war, had won the nickname of "the butcher" 
for his merciless treatment of captured natives. If 
Bucky were to get the same short shrift as they 
did and he began to suspect as much when his trial 
was set for the same day before a military tribunal 
it was time for him to be setting what few 
worldly affairs he had in order. Technically, Me- 
gales had a legal right to have him put to death, 
and the impression lingered with Bucky that the sly 
old governor would be likely to do that very thing 
and later be full of profuse regrets to the United 
States Government that inadvertently a citizen of 
the great republic had been punished by mistake. 

Bucky was registered and receipted for at the 
prison office, after which he was conducted to his 
cell. The corridors dripped as he followed under- 
ground the guide who led the way with a flickering 
lantern. It was a gruesome place to contemplate as 
a permanent abode. But the young American knew 

179 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



that his stay here would be short, whether the ter- 
mination of it were liberty or the gallows. 

Reaching the end of a narrow, crooked corridor 
that sloped downward, the turnkey unlocked a pon- 
derous iron door with a huge key, and one of the 
guard, following at Bucky's heels, pushed him for- 
ward. He fell down two or three steps and came 
to a sprawling heap on the floor of the cell. 

From the top of the steps canie a derisive laugh 
as the door swung to and left him in utter dark- 
ness. 

Stiffly the ranger got to his knees and was about 
to rise when a sound stopped him. Something was 
panting in deep breaths at the other side of the cell. 
A shiver of terror went goose-quilling down O'Con- 
nor's back. Had they locked him up with some 
wild beast, to be torn to pieces? Or was this the 
ghost of some previous occupant? In such black- 
ness of gloom it was easy to believe, or, at least, 
to imagine impossible conceptions that the light of 
day would have scattered in an instant. He was 
afraid afraid to the marrow. 

And then out of the darkness came a small, trem- 
^bling voice: "Are you a prisoner, too, sir?" 

Bucky wanted to shout aloud his relief and his 
delight. The sheer joy of his laughter told him 
how badly he had been frightened. That voice 
were he sunk in twice as deep and dark an inferno 
he would know it among a thousand. He groped 
his way forward toward it. 

180 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Oh, little pardner, I'm plumb tickled to death you 
ain't a ghost/' he laughed. 

"It is Bucky?" The question joyfully answered 
itself. 

"Right guess. Bucky it is." 

He had hold of her hands by this time, was try- 
ing to peer down into the happy brown eyes he knew 
were scanning him. "I can't see you yet, Curly 
Haid, but it's sure you, I reckon. I'll have to pass 
my hand over your face the way a blind man does," 
he laughed, and, greatly daring, he followed his own 
suggestion, and let his fingers wander across her 
crisp, thick hair, down her soft, warm cheeks, and 
over the saucy nose and laughing mouth he had 
often longed to kiss. 

Presently she drew away shyly, but the lilt of hap- 
piness in her voice told him she was not offended. 
"I can see you, Bucky." The last word came as 
usual, with that sweet, hesitating, upward inflection 
that made her familiarity wholly intoxicating, even 
while the comradeship of it left room for an inter- 
pretation either of gay mockery or something- 
deeper. "Yes, I can see you. That's because I have 
been here longer and am more used to the darkness. 
I think I've been here about a year." He felt her 
shudder. "You don't know how glad I am to see 
you." 

"No gladder than I am to feel you," he answered 
gayly. "It's worth the price of admission to find 
you here, girl o' mine." 

181 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



He had forgotten the pretense that still lay be- 
tween them, so far as words went when they had 
last parted. Nor did it yet occur to him that he 
had swept aside the convention of her being a boy. 
But she was vividly aware of it, and aware, too, of 
the demand his last words had made for a recogni- 
tion of the relationship that existed in feeling be- 
tween them. 

"I knew you knew I was a girl," she murmured. 

"You knew more than that," he challenged joy- 
fully. 

But, in woman's way, she ignored his frontal at- 
tack. He was going at too impetuous a speed for 
her reluctance. "How long have you know that I 
wasn't a boy not from the first, surely?" 

"I don't know why I didn't, but I didn't. I was 
sure locoed," he confessed. "It was when you came 
out dressed as a gypsy that I knew. That explained 
to me a heap of things I never had understood be- 
fore about you." 

"It explained, I suppose, why I never had licked 
the stuffing out of any other kid, and why you did 
not get very far in making a man out of me as you 
promised," she mocked. 

"Yes, and it explained how you happened to say 
you were eighteen. By mistake you let the truth 
slip out. Course I wouldn't believe it." 

"I remember you didn't. I think you conveyed 
the impression to me diplomatically that you had 
doubts." 

182 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I said it was a lie," he laughed. "I sure do owe 
you a heap of apologies for being so plumb dog- 
matic when you knew best. You'll have to sit down 
on me hard once in a while, or there won't be any 
living with me." 

Blushingly she did some more ignoring. "That 
was the first time you threatened to give me a whip- 
ping," she recalled aloud. 

"My goodness ! Did I ever talk so foolish ?" 

"You did, and meant it." 

"But somehow I never did it. I wonder why I 
didn't." 

"Perhaps I was so frail you were afraid you 
would break me." 

"No, that wasn't it. In the back of my haid 
somewhere there was an instinct that said : 'Bucky, 
you ckump, if you don't keep your hands off this 
kid you'll be right sorry all your life/ Not being 
given to many ideas, I paid a heap of respect to that 
one." 

"Well, it's too bad, for I probably needed that 
whipping, and now you'll never be able to give it 
to me." 

"I shan't ever want to now." 

Saucily her merry eyes shot him from under the 
long lashes. "I'm not so sure of that. Girls can 
be mighty aggravating." 

"That's the way girls are meant to be, I expect," 
he laughed. "But fifteen-year-old boys have to be 
herded back into line. There's a difference." 

183 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



She rescued her hands from him and led the way 
to a bench that served for a seat. "Sit down here, 
sir. There are one or two things that I have to 
explain/' She sat down beside him at the farther 
end of the bench. 

"This light is so dim, I can't see you away off 
there," he pleaded, moving closer. 

"You don't need to see me. You can hear me, 
can't you?" 

"I reckon." 

She seemed to find a difficulty in beginning, even 
though the darkness helped her by making it impos- 
sible for him to see her embarrassment. Presently 
he chuckled softly. "No, ma'am, I can't even hear 
you. If you're talking, I'll have to come closer." 

"If you do, I'll get up. I want you to be really 
earnest." 

"I never was more earnest in my life, Curly 
Haid." 

"Please, Bucky? It isn't easy to say it, and you 
mustn't make it harder." 

"Do you have to say it, pardner?" he asked, more 
seriously. 

"Yes, I have to say it." And swiftly she blurted 
it out. "Why do you suppose I came with you to 
Mexico ?" 

"I don't know." He grappled with her sugges- 
tion for a moment. "I suppose you said it was be- 
cause you were afraid of Hardman." 

"Well, I wasn't. At least, I wasn't afraid that 

184 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



much. I knew that I would have been quite safe 
next time with the Mackenzies at the ranch." 

"Then why was it ?" 

"You can't think of any reason?" She leaned 
forward and looked directly into his eyes eyes as 
honest and as blue as an Arizona sky. 

But he stood unconvicted nay, acquitted. The 
one reason she had dreaded he might offer to him- 
self had evidently never entered his head. What- 
ever guesses he might have made on the subject, he 
was plainly guiltless of thinking she might have 
come with him because she was in love with him. 

"No, I can't think of any other reason, if the one 
you gave isn't the right one." 

"Quite sure?" 

"Quite sure, pardner." 

"Think! Why did you come to Chihuahua?" 

"To run down Wolf Leroy's gang and to get 
Dave Henderson out of prison." 

"Perhaps there is a reason why I should want 
him out of prison, a better reason than you could 
possibly have." 

"I don't savvy it. How can there be ? You don't 
know him, do you? He's been in prison almost 
ever since you were born." And on top of his last 
statement Bucky's eyes began to open with a new 

light. "Good heavens! It can't be possible 

You're not Webb Mackenzie's little girl, are you?" 

She did not answer him in words, but from her 

185 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



neck she slipped a chain and handed it to him. On 
the chain hung a locket. 

The ranger struck a match and examined the 
trinket. "It's the very missing locket. See! Here's 
the other one. Compare them together." He 
touched the spring and it opened, but the match was 
burned out and he had to light another. "Here'? 
the mine map that has been lost all these years. 
How did you get this ? Have you always had it \ 
And how long have you known that you wertf 
Frances Mackenzie?" 

His questions tumbled out one upon another irt 
his excitement. 

She laughed, answering him categorically. "I 
don't know, for sure. Yes, at least a great many 
years. Less than a week." 

"But -I don't understand " 

"And won't until you give me a chance to do 
some of the talking," she interrupted dryly. 

"That's right. I reckon I am getting off left 
foot first. It's your powwow now," he conceded. 

"So long as I can remember exactly I have always 
lived with the man Hardman and his wife. But be- 
fore that I can vaguely recall something different. 
It has always seemed like a kind of fairyland, for 
I was a very little tot then. But one of the things 
I seem to remember was a sweet, kind-eyed mother 
and a big, laughing father. Then, too, there were 
horses and lots of cows. That is about all, except 
that the chain around my neck seemed to have some 

186 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



connection with my early life. That's why I always 
kept it very carefully, and, after one of the lockets 
broke, I still kept it and the funny-looking paper in- 
side of it." 

"I don't understand why Hardman didn't take 
the paper," he interrupted. 

"I suppose he did, and when he discovered that 
it held only half the secret of the mine he probably 
put it back in the locket. I see you have the other 
part." 

"It was lost at the place where the robbers waited 
to hold up the T. P. Limited. Probably you lost it 
first and one of the robbers found it." 

"Probably," she said, in a queer voice. 

"That was the first clue your father had had for 
many years about his little girl. He happened to 
be at Aravaipa the day you and I first met. I guess 
he took a fancy to me, for he asked me to take 
this case up for him and see if I couldn't locate 
you. I ran Hardman down and made him tell me 
the whole story. But he lied about some of it, for 
he told me you were dead." 

"He is a born liar," the girl commented. "Well, 
to get on with my story. Anderson, or Hardman, 
as he now calls himself, except when he uses his 
stage name of Cavallado, went into the show busi- 
ness and took me with him. When I was a little bit 
of a girl he used to use me for all sorts of things, 
such as a target for his knife throwing and to sell 
medicine to the audience. Lots of people would 

187 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



buy because I was such a morsel of a creature, and 
I suppose he found me a drawing card. We moved 
all over the country for years. I hated the life. 
But what could I do ?" 

"You poor little lamb," murmured the man, 
"And when did you find out who you were?" 

"I heard you talking to him the night you took 
him back to Epitaph, and then I began to piece 
things together. You remember you went over the 
whole story with him again just before we reached 
the town." 

"And you knew it was you I was talking about ?" 

"I didn't know. But when you mentioned the 
locket and the map, I knew. Then it seemed to me 
that since mis man Henderson had lost so many 
years of his life trying to save me I must do some- 
thing for him. So I asked you to take me with you. 
I had been a boy so long I didn't think you would 
know the difference, and you did not. If I hadn't 
dressed as a girl that time you would not know 
yet." 

"Maybe, and maybe not," he smiled. "Point is, 
I do know, and it makes a heap of difference to me." 

"Yes, I know," she said hurriedly. "I'm more 
trouble now." 

"That ain't it," he was beginning, when a thought 
brought him up short. As the daughter of Webb 
Mackenzie this girl was no longer a penniless out- 
cast, but the heiress of one-half interest in the big 
Rocking Chair Ranch, with its fifteen thousand head 

1 88 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



of cattle. As the first he had a perfect right to love 
her and to ask her to marry him, but as the latter 
well, that was quite a different affair. He had 
not a cent to bless himself with outside of his little 
ranch and his salary, and, though he might not 
question his own motives under such circumstances, 
there would be plenty who would question them for 
him. He was an independent young man as one 
could find in a long day's ride, and his pride rose 
up to padlock his lips. 

She looked across at him in shy surprise, for 
all the eagerness had in an instant been sponged 
from his face. With a hard, impassive countenance 
he dropped the hand he had seized and turned away. 

"You were saying " she suggested. 

"I reckon I've forgot what it was. It doesn't 
matter, anyhow." 

She was hurt, and deeply. It was all very well 
for her to try her little wiles to delay him, but in 
her heart she longed to hear the words he had been 
about to say. It had been very sweet to know that 
this brown, handsome son of Arizona loved her, 
very restful to know that for the first time in her 
life she could trustfully let her weakness lean on the 
strength of another. And, more than either, though 
she sometimes smilingly pretended to deny it to her- 
self, was the ultimate fact that she loved him. His 
voice was music to her, his presence joy. He brought 
with him sunshine, and peace, and happiness. 

He was always so reliable, so little the victim of 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



his moods. What could have come over him now 
to change him in that swift instant? Was she to 
blame? Had she unknowingly been at fault? Or 
was there something in her story that had chilled 
him? It was characteristic of her that it was her- 
self she doubted and not him; that it never occurred 
to her that her hero had feet of clay like other 
men. 

She felt her heart begin to swell, and choked back 
a sob. It wrung him to hear the little breath catch, 
but he was a man, strong-willed and resolute. 
Though he dug his finger nails into his palms till the 
flesh was cut he would not give way to his de- 
sire. 

"You're not angry at me Bucky?" she asked 
softly. 

"No, I'm not angry at you." His voice was cold 
because he dared not trust himself to let his tender- 
ness creep into it. 

"I haven't done anything that I ought not to? 
Perhaps you think it wasn't wasn't nice to to 
come here with you." 

"I don't think anything of the kind," his hard 
voice answered. "I think you're a prince, if you 
want to know." 

She smiled a little wanly, trying to coax him back 
into friendliness. "Then if I'm a prince you must 
be a princess," she teased. 

"I meant a prince of good fellows." 
190 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Oh!" She could be stiff, too, if it came to 
that. 

And at this inopportune moment the key turned 
harshly and the door swung open. 



19? 



CHAPTER XII. 

A CLEAN WHITE MAN'S OPTION. 

The light of a lantern coming down the steps 
blinded them for a moment. Behind the lantern 
peered the yellow face of the turnkey. "Ho, there, 
Americano! They want you up above," the man 
said. "The generals, and the colonels, and the cap- 
tains want a little talk with you before they hang 
you, sefior." 

The two soldiers behind the fellow cackled mer- 
rily at his wit, and the encouraged turnkey tried 
again. 

"We shall trouble you but a little time. Only a 
few questions, senor, an order, and then poco 
tiempo, after a short walk to the gallows para- 
dise." 

"What what do you mean?" gasped the girl 
whitely. 

"Never mind, mitchacho. This is no affair of 
yours. Your turn will come later. Have no fear, 
of that," nodded the wrinkled old parchment face. 

"But but he hasn't done anything wrong." 

"Ho, ho! Let him explain that to the generals 
and the colonels," croaked the old fellow. "And 
that you may explain the sooner, sefior, hurry let 
your feet fly!" 

192 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Bucky walked across to the girl he loved and 
took her hands in his. 

"If I don't come back before three hours read 
the letter that I wrote you yesterday, dear. I have 
left matches on thdt bench so that you may have a 
light. Be brave, pardner. Don't lose your nerve, 
whatever you do. We'll both get out of this all 
right yet." 

He spoke in a low voice, so that the guards might 
not hear, and it was in kind that she answered. 

"I'm afraid, Bucky; afraid away down deep. 
You don't half believe yourself what you say. I 
can't stand it to be here alone and not know what's 
going on. They might be be doing what that 
man said, and I not know anything about it til? 
afterward/' She broke down and began to sob. 
"Oh, I know I'm a dreadful little coward, but I 
can't be like you and you heard what he said." 

"Sho ! What he says is nothing. I'm an Amer- 
ican citizen, and I reckon that will carry us through 
all right. Uncle Sam has awful long arms, and 
these greasers know it. I'm expecting to come back 
here again, little pardner. But if I don't make it, 
I want you, just as soon as they turn you loose, to , 
go straight to your father's ranch." 

"Come ! This won't do. Look alive, sefior," the 
turnkey ordered, and to emphasize his words reached 
a hand forward to pluck away the sobbing lad. 
Bucky caught his wrist and tightened on it like a 
vise. "Hands off, here!" he commanded quietly. 

193 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The man gave a howl of pain and nursed his hand 
gingerly after it was released. 

"Oh, Bucky, make him let me go, too," the girl 
wailed, clinging to his coat. 

Gently he unfastened her fingers. "You know 
I would if I could, Curly ; but it isn't my say-so." 

And with that he was gone. Ashen-faced she 
watched him go, and as soon as the door had closed 
groped her way to the bench and sank down on it, 
her face covered with her hands. He was going to 
his death. Her lover was going to his death. Why 
had she let him go ? Why had she not done some- 
thing thought of some way to save him? 

The ranger's guards led him to the military 
headquarters in the next street from the prison. He 
observed that nearly a whole company of Rurales 
formed the escort, and this led him to conclude that 
the government party was very uneasy as to the sit- 
uation and had taken precautions against a possible 
attempt at rescue. But no such attempt was made. 
The sunny streets were pretty well deserted, except 
for a few lounging peons hardly interested enough 
to be curious. The air of peace, of order, sat so 
congruously over the plaza that Bucky's heart fell. 
Surely this was the last place on earth for a revolu- 
tion to make any headway of consequence. His 
friends were hidden away in holes and cellars, while 
Megales dominated the situation with his troops. 
To expect a reversal of the situation was surely 
madness. 

194 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Yet even while the thought was in his mind he 
caught a glimpse in a doorway of a man he recog- 
nized. It was Rodrigo, one of his allies of the 
previous night's escapade, and it seemed to him that 
the man was trying to tell him something with his 
eyes. If so, the meaning of his message failed to 
carry home, for after the ranger had passed he dared 
not look back again. 

So far as the trial itself went, O'Connor hoped 
for nothing and was the less disappointed. One 
glance at his judges was enough to convince him 
of the futility of expectation. He was tried by a 
court-martial presided over by General Carlo. Be- 
side him sat a Colonel Onate and Lieutenant Chaves. 
In none of the three did he find any room for hope. 
Carlo was a hater of Americans and a butcher by 
temperament and choice, Chaves a personal enemy 
of the prisoner, and Onate looked as grim an old 
scoundrel as Jeffreys the hanging judge of James 
Stuart. Governor Megales, though not technically 
a member of the court, was present, and took an ac- 
tive part in the prosecution. He was a stout, 
swarthy little man, with black, beady eyes that 
snapped restlessly to and fro, and from his manner- 
to the officers in charge of the trial it was plain 
that he was a despot even in his own official family. 

The court did not trouble itself with forms of law. 
Chaves was both principal witness and judge, not- 
withstanding the protest of the prisoner. Yet what 
the lieutenant had to offer in the way of testimony 

195 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



was so tinctured with bitterness that it must have 
been plain to the veriest novice he was no fit judge 
of the case. 

But Bucky knew as well as the judges that his 
trial was a merely perfunctory formality. The ver- 
dict was decided ere it began, and, indeed, so eager 
was Megales to get the farce over with that several 
times fie interrupted the proceedings to urge haste. 

It took them just fifteen minutes from the time 
the young American was brought into the room to 
find him guilty of treason and to decide upon im- 
mediate execution as the fitting punishment. 

General Carlo turned to the prisoner. "Have you 
anything to say before I pronounce sentence of death 
upon you?'* 

"I have," answered Bucky, looking him straight 
in the eyes. "I am an American, and I demand the 
rights of a citizen of the United States." 

"An American?" Incredulously Megales lifted 
his eyebrows. "You are a Spanish gypsy, my 
friend." 

The ranger was fairly caught in his own trap. 
He had donned the gypsy masquerade because he did 
not want to be taken for what he was, and he 
had succeeded only too well. He had played into 
their hands. They would, of course, claim, in the 
event of trouble with the United States, that they 
had supposed him to be what his costume proclaimed 
him, and they would be able to make good their 



196 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



pretense with a very decent appearance of candor. 
What an idiot of sorts he had been ! 

"We understand each other perfectly, governor. 
I know and you know that I am an American. As 
a citizen of the United States I claim the protection 
of that flag. I demand that you will send immedi- 
ately for the United States consul to this city." 

Megales leaned forward with a thin, cruel smile 
on his face. "Very well, senor. Let it be as you 
say. Your friend, Senor O'Halloran, is the United 
States consul. I shall be very glad to send for him 
if you can tell me where to find him. Having busi- 
ness with him to-day, I have despatched messengers 
who have been unable to find him at home. But 
since you know where he is, and are in need of him, 
perhaps you can assist me with information of 
value." 

Again Bucky was fairly caught. He had no rea- 
son to doubt that the governor spoke truth in say- 
ing that O'Halloran was the United States consul. 
There were in the city as permanent residents not 
more than three or four citizens of the United 
States. With the political instinct of the Irish, it 
would be very characteristic of O'Halloran to work. 1 
Kis "pull" to secure for himself the appointment. 
That he had not happened to mention the fact to 
his friend could be accounted for by reason of the 
fact that the duties of the office at that place were 
few and unimportant. 

197 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"We are waiting, sefior. If you will tell us 
where we may send?" hinted Megales. 

"I do not know any more than you do, if he is 
not at home." 

The governor's eyes glittered. "Take care r 
sefior. Better 'sharpen your memory." 

"It's pretty hard to remember what one never 
knew," retorted the prisoner. 

The Mexican tyrant brought his clinched fist 
slowly down on the table in front of him. "It is 
necessary to remember, sir. It is necessary to an- 
swer a few questions. If you answer them to our 
satisfaction you may yet save your life." 

"Indeed!" Bucky swept his fat bulk scornfully 
from head to foot. "If I were what you think me, 
do you suppose I would betray my friends?" 

"You have no option, sir. Answer my questions, 
or die like a dog." 

"You mean that you would not think you had 
any option if you were in my place, but since I'm a 
clean white man there's an option. By God! sir, 
it doesn't take me a whole lot of time to make it, 
either. I'll see you rot in hell before I'll play 
Judas." 

The words rang like a bell through the room, not 
loud, but clear and vibrant. There was a long in- 
stant's silence after the American finished speaking, 
and as his eyes swept from one to another of the 
enemy Bucky met with a surprise. On Colonel 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Onate's face was a haggard look of fear surely 
it was fear that lifted in relief at the young man's 
brave challenge. He had been dreading something, 
and the dread was lifted. Onate! Onate! The 
ranger's memory searched the past few days to lo- , 
cate the name. Had O'Halloran mentioned it? 
Was this man one of the officers expected to join 
the opposition when it declared itself against Me- 
gales? He had a vague recollection of the name, 
and he could have heard it only through his friend. 

"Was Juan Valdez a member of the party that 
took the rifles from Lieutenant Chaves and his es- 
cort?" 

Bucky laughed out his contempt. 

"Speak, sir," broke in Chaves. "Answer the 
governor, you dog." 

"If I speak, it will be to tell you what a cur I 
think you." 

Chaves flushed angrily and laid a hand on his re- 
volver. "Who are you that play dice with death, 
like a fool?" 

"My name, seh, is Bucky O'Connor." 

At the words a certain fear, followed by a look 
of triumph, passed over the face of Chaves. Iti 
was as if he had had an unpleasant shock that had 
instantly proved groundless. Bucky did not at the 
time understand it. ' 

"Why don't you shoot? It's about your size, 
you pinhead, to kill an unarmed man." 

199 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Tell all you know and I promise you your life." 
It was Megales who spoke. 

"I'll tell you nothing, except that I'm Bucky 

O'Connor, of the Arizona Rangers. Chew on that 

a while, governor, and see how it tastes. Kill me, 

jand Uncle Sam is liable to ask mighty loud why- 

1 for; not because I'm such a mighty big toad in the 

puddle, but because any man that stands under that 

flag has back of him the biggest, best, and gamest 

country on God's green footstool." Bucky spoke 

in English this time, straight as he could send it. 

"In that case, I think sentence may now be pro- 
nounced, general." 

"I warn you that the United States will exact 
Vengeance for my death." 

"Indeed!" Politely the governor smiled at him 
with a malice almost devilish. "If so, it will be 
after you are dead, Senor Bucky O'Connor, of the 
Arizona Rangers." 

Colonel Onate leaned forward and whispered 
something to General Carlo, who shook his head 
and frowned. Presently the black head of Chaves 
joined them, and the three were in excited discus- 
sion. Arms waved like signals, as is usual among 
'the Latin races who talk with their hands and ex- 
pressive shrugs of the shoulders. Outvoted by 
two to one, Onate appealed to the governor, who 
came up and listened, frowning, to both sides of the 
debate. In their excitement the voices raised, and 
to Bucky came snatches of phrases that told him his 

200 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



life hung in the balance. Carlo and Chaves were 
for having him executed out of hand, at latest, by 
sunset. The latter was especially vindictive. In- 
deed, it seemed to the ranger that ever since he had 
mentioned his name this man had set himself more 
malevolently to compass his death. Onate main- 
tained, on the other hand, that their prisoner was 
worth more to them alive than dead. There was 
a chance that he might weaken before morning and 
tell secrets. At worst they would still have his 
life as a card to hold in case of need over the head 
of the rebels. If it should turn out that this was 
not needed, he could be executed in the morning 
as well as to-night. 

It may be conceived with what anxiety Bucky 
listened to the whispered conversation and waited 
for the decision of the governor. He was a game 
man, noted even in a country famous for its cour- 
ageous citizens, but he felt strangely weak now as 
he waited with that leather-crusted face of his be- 
reft of all expression. 

"Give him till morning to weaken. If he still 
stays obstinate, hang him in the dawn/' decided 
the governor, his beady eyes fixed on the prisoner. 

Not a flicker of the eyelid betrayed the Arizoni- 
an's emotion, but for an instant the world swam 
dizzily before him. Safe till morning! Before 
then a hundred chances might change the current 
of the game in his favor. How brightly the sun- 
shine flooded the room! What a glorious world it 

20 1 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



was, after all! Through the open window poured 
the rich, full-throated song of a meadow lark, and 
the burden of its blithe song was, "How good is 
this life the mere living." 



202 



CHAPTER XIII. 

BUCKY'S FIRST-RATE REASONS. 

How, long Frances Mackenzie gave herself up 
to despair she never knew, but when at last she 
resolutely took herself in hand it seemed hours 
later. "Bucky told me to be brave, he told me not 
to lose my nerve," she repeated to herself over and 
over again, drawing comfort from the memory of 
his warm, vibrant voice. "He said he would come 
back, and he hates a liar. So, of course, he will 
come." With such argument she tried to allay her 
wild fears. 

But on top of all her reassurances would come 
a swift, blinding vision of gallant Bucky being led 
to his death that crumpled her courage as a ham- 
mer might an empty egg shell. What was the use 
of her pretending all was well when at that very 
moment they might be murdering him? Then in 
her agony she would pace up and down, wringing 
her hands, or would beat them on the stone walls 
till the soft flesh was bruised and bleeding. 

It was in the reaction, after one of these par- 
oxysms of despair, that in her groping for an an- 
chor to make fast her courage she thought of his 
letter. 

"He said in three hours I was to read it if he 
203 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



didn't come back. It must be more than three 
hours now," she said aloud to herself, and knew a 
fresh dread at his prolonged absence beyond the 
limit he had set. 

In point of fact, he had been gone less than three 
quarters of an hour, but in each one of them she 
had lived a lifetime of pain and died many deaths. 

By snatches she read her letter, a sentence or a 
fragment of a sentence at a time as the light served. 
Luckily he had left a case nearly full of matches, 
and one after another of them dropped, charred 
and burned out, before she had finished reading. 
After she had read it, her first love letter, she must 
needs go over it again, to learn by heart the sweet 
phrases in which he had wooed her. It was a 
commonplace note enough, far more neutral than 
the strong, virile writer who had lacked the cun- 
ning to transmit his feeling to ink and paper. But, 
after all, it was from him, and it told the divine 
message, however haltingly. No wonder she 
burned her little finger tips from the flame of the 
matches creeping nearer unheeded. No wonder she 
pressed it to her lips in the darkness and dreamed 
her happy dream in those few moments when she 
was lost in her love before cruel realities pressed 
home on her again. 

"I told you, Little Curly Haid, that I had first- 
rate reasons for not wanting to be killed by these 
Mexicans. So I have, the best reasons going. But 
they are not ripe to tell you, and so I write them. 

204 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I guessed your secret, little pardner, right away 
when I seen you in a girl's outfit. If I hadn't been 
blind as a bat I would have guessed it long since, 
for all the time my feellings were telling me mighty 
loud that you were the lovingest little kid Bucky 
had ever come across. 

"I'll not leave you to guess my secret the way 
you did me yours, dear Curly, but right prompt I'll 
set down adore (with one D) and say you hit the 
bull's-eye that time without expecting to. But if 
I was saying it I would not use any French words, 
sweetheart, but plain American. And the word 
would be 1-o-v-e, without any D's. Now you have 
got the straight of it, my dear. I love you love 
you love you, from the crown of that curly head 
to the soles of your little feet. What's more, you 
have got to love me, too, since I am, 
"Your future husband, 

"BUCKY O'CONNOR/' 

"P. S. And now, Curly, you know my first- 
rate reasons for not meaning to get shot up by any 
of these Mexican fellows.'' 

So the letter ran, and it went to her heart di- 
rectly as rain to the thirsty roots of flowers. He 
loved her. Whatever happened, she would always 
have that comfort. They might kill him, but they 
could not take away that. The words of an old 
Scotch song that Mrs. Mackenzie sang came back 
to her : 

205 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"The span o' life's nae lang eneugh, 

Nor deep eneugh the sea, 
Nor braid eneugh this weary warld, 

To part my love frae me." 

No, they could not part their hearts in this world 
or the next, and with this sad comfort she flung 
herself on the rough bed and sobbed. She would 
grieve still, but the wildness of her grief and de- 
spair was gone, scattered by the knowledge that 
however their troubles eventuated they were now 
one in heart. 

She was roused after a long time by the sound 
of the huge key grating in the lock. Through the 
opened door a figure descended, and by an illumi- 
nating swing of the turnkey's lantern she saw that 
it was Bucky. Next moment the door had closed 
and they were in each other's arms. Bucky's stub- 
born pride, the remembrance of the riches which 
of a sudden had transformed his little partner into 
an heiress and set a high wall of separation be- 
tween them, these were swept clean away on a 
great wave of love which took Bucky off his feet 
and left him breathless. 

"I had almost given you up," she cried joyfully. 

Again he passed his hand across her face. 
"You've been crying, little pardner. Were you 
crying on account of me?" 

"On account of myself, because I was afraid I 
had lost you. Oh, Bucky, isn't it too good to be 
true?" 

The ranger smiled, remembering that he had 
206 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



about fourteen hours to live, if the Megales faction 
triumphed. "Good! I should think it is. Bully! 
I've been famished to see Curly Raid again." 

"And to know that everything is going to come 
out all right and that we love each other." 

"That's right good hearing and most ce'tainly 
true on my side of it. But how do you happen to 
know it so sure?" he laughed gayly. 

"Why, your letter, Bucky. It was the dearest 
letter. I love it." 

"But you weren't to read it for three hours," he 
pretended to reprove, holding her at arm's length 
to laugh at her. 

"Wasn't it three hours ? It seemed ever so much 
longer." 

"You little rogue, you didn't play fair." And to 
punish her he drew her soft, supple body to him 
in a close embrace, and for the first time kissed the 
sweet mouth that yielded itself to him. 

"Tell me all about what happened to you," she 
bade him playfully, after speech was again in order. 

"Sure." He caught her hand to lead her to the 
bench and she winced involuntarily. 

"I burned it," she explained, adding, with a rip- 
ple of shy laughter: "When I was reading your 
letter. It doesn't really hurt, though." 

But he had to see for himself and make much 
over the little blister that the flame of a match re- 
vealed to him. For they were both very much in 
love, and, in consequence, bubbling over with the 

207 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



foolishness that is the greatest inherited wisdom of 
the ages. 

But though her lover had acquiesced so promptly 
to her demand for a full account of his adventures 
since leaving her, that young man had no intention 
of offering an unexpurged edition of them. It was 
his hope that O'Halloran would storm the prison 
during the night and effect a rescue. If so, good; 
if not, there was no need of her knowing that for 
them the new day would usher in fresh sorrow. 
So he gave her an account of his trial and its de- 
tails, told her how he had been convicted, and how 
Colonel Onate had fought warily to get the sen- 
tence of execution postponed in order to give their 
friends a chance to rescue them. 

"When Megales remanded me to prison I wanted 
to let out an Arizona yell, Curly. It sure seemed 
too good to be true." 

"But he may want the sentence carried out some 
time, if he changes his mind. Maybe in a week or 

two he may take a notion that " She stopped, 

plainly sobered by the fear that the good news of 
his return might not be final. 

"We won't cross that bridge till we come to it. 
You don't suppose our friends are going to sit 
down and fold their hands, do you? Not if I've 
got Mike O'Halloran and young Valdez sized up 
right. Fur is going to begin to fly pretty soon in 
this man's country. But it's up to us to help all 

208 






BUCKY O'CONNOR 



we can, and I reckon we'll begin by taking a pre- 
liminary survey of this wickiup." 

Wickiup was distinctly good, since the word is 
used to apply to a frail Indian hut, and this cell 
was nothing less than a tomb built in the solid rock 
by blowing out a chamber with dynamite and cov- 
ering the front with a solid sheet of iron, into which 
a door fitted. It did not take a very long investiga- 
tion to prove to Bucky that escape was impossible 
by any exit except the door, which meant the same 
thing as impossible at all under present conditions. 
Yet he did not yield to this opinion without going 
over every inch of the walls many times to make 
sure that no secret panel opened into a tunnel from 
the room. 

"I reckon they want to keep us, Curly. Mr. Me- 
gales has sure got us real safe this time. I'd be 
plumb discouraged about breaking jail out of this 
cage. It's ce'tainly us to stay hitched a while." 

About dark tortillas and frijoles were brought 
down to them by the facetious turnkey, who was 
accompanied as usual by two guards. 

"Why don't my little birdies sing?" he asked, 
with a wink at the soldiers. "One of them will not 
do any singing after daybreak to-morrow. Ho, ho, 
my larks! Tune up, tune up!" 

"What do you mean about one not singing after 
daybreak?" asked the girl, with eyes dilating. 

"What ! Hasn't he told you ? Senor the ranger 
is to be hanged at the dawn unless he finds his 

209 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



tongue for Governor Megales. Ho, ho! Our 
birdie must speak even if he doesn't sing." And 
with that as a parting shot the man clanged the 
door to after him and locked it. 

"You never told me, Bucky. You have been 
trying to deceive me," she groaned. 

He shrugged his shoulders. "What was the use, 
girlie? I knew it would worry you, and do no 
good. Better let you sleep in peace, I thought." 

"While you kept watch alone and waited through 
the long night. Oh, Bucky!" She crept close to 
him and put her arms around his neck, holding 
him tight, as if in the hope that she could keep 
him against the untoward fate that was reaching 
for him. "Oh, Bucky, if I could only die for 
you!" 

"Don't give up, little friend. I don't. Some- 
how I'll slip out, and then you'll have to live for 
me and not die for me." 

"What is it that the governor wants you to say 
that you won't?" 

"Oh, he wants me to sell our friends. I told him 
to go climb a giant cactus." 

"Of course you couldn't do that/* she sighed re- 
gretfully. 

He laughed. "Well, hardly, and call myself a 
white man." 

"But " She blanched at the alternative. 

"Oh, Bucky, we must do something. We must 



210 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"It ain't so bad as it looks, honey. You want 
to remember that Mike O'Halloran is on deck. 
What's the matter with him knocking out a home 
run and bringing us both in. I put a heap of con- 
fidence in that red-haided Irishman," he answered 
cheerfully. 

"You say that just to to give me courage. You 
don't really think he can do anything," she said 
wanly. 

"That's just what I think, Curly. Some men 
have a way of getting things done. When you look 
at O'Halloran you feel this, the same as you do 
when you look at Val Collins. Oh, he'll get us out 
all right. I've been in seve-real tighter holes than 
this one." His mention of Collins suggested a di- 
version, and he took up a less distressing theme 
lightly. "Wonder what Val is doing at this pre- 
cise moment. I'll bet he's beginning tc make things 
warm for Wolf Leroy's bunch of miscreants. We'll 
have the robbers of the Limited behind the bars 
within two weeks now, or I miss my guess." 

He had succeeded in diverting her attention bet- 
ter than he had dared to hope. Her big eyes fixed 
on his much as if he had raised for her some for- 
gotten spectre. 

"That's another thing I must tell you. I didn't 
think to before. But I want you to know all about 
me now. Don't think me bad, Bucky. I'm only a 
girl. I couldn't help myself," she pleaded. 

"What is it you have done that is so awful?" he 
211 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



smiled, and went to gather her into his arms. 

She stayed him with a gesture of her hand. 
"No, not yet. Mebbe after you know you won't 
want to. I was one of the robbers of the Limited." 

"You what!" he exclaimed, for once struck 
dumb with sheer amazement. 

"Yes, Bucky. I expect you'll hate me now. 
What is it you called me a miscreant? Well, 
that's what I am." 

His arms slipped round her as she began to sob, 
and he gentled her till she could again speak. "Tell 
me all about it, little Curly?" he said. 

"I didn't go into it because I wanted to. My 
master made me. I don't know much about the 
others, except that I heard the names they called 
each other." 

"Would you know them again if you saw them? 
But of course you would." 

"Yes. But that's it, Bucky. I hated them all, 
and I was in mortal fear all the time. Still I 
can't betray them. They thought I went in freely 
with them all but Hardman. It wouldn't be right 
for me to tell what I know. I've got to make you 
see that, dear." 

"You'll not need to argue that with me, honey. I 
see it. You must keep quiet. Don't tell anybody 
else what you've told me." 

"And will they put me in the penitentiary when 
the rest go there?" 

212 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Not while Bucky O'Connor is alive and kick- 
ing," he told her confidently. 

But the form in which he had expressed his feel- 
ing was unfortunate. It brought them back to the 
menace of their situation. Neither of them could 
tell how long he would be alive and kicking. She 
flung herself into his arms and wept till she could 
weep no more. 



213 



CHAPTER XIV. 
LE ROI EST MORT; VIVE LE ROI. 

When the news reached O'Halloran that Megales 
had scored on the opposition by arresting Bucky 
O'Connor, the Irishman swore fluently at himself 
for his oversight in forgetting the Northern Chi- 
huahua. So far as the success of the insurgents 
went, the loss of the ranger was a matter of no im- 
portance, since O'Halloran knew well that nothing 
in the way of useful information could be cajoled 
or threatened out of him. But, personally, it was 
a blow to the filibuster, because he knew that the 
governor would not hesitate to execute his friend 
if his fancy or his fears ran that way, and the big, 
red-headed Celt would not have let Bucky go to 
death for a dozen teapot revolutions if he could 
help it. 

"And do you think you're fit to run even a do- 
nation party, you great, blundering gumph ?" Mike 
asked himself, in disgust. "You a conspirator! 
You a leader of a revolution! By the ghost of 
Brian Boru, you had better run along back to the 
kindergarten class." 

But he was not the man to let grass grow un- 
der his feet while he hesitated how to remedy his 
mistake. Immediately he got in touch with Valdez 

214 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



and a few of his party, and decided on a bold coun- 
terstroke that, if successful, would oppose a check- 
mate to the governor's check and would also make 
unnecessary the unloosing of the State prisoners 
o-n the devoted heads of the people. 

"But mind, gentlemen," said Juan Valdez plainly, 
"the governor must not be injured personally. I 
shall not consent to any violence, no matter what the 
issue. Furthermore, I should like to be given charge 
of the palace, in order to see that his wants are 
properly provided for. We cannot afford to have 
our movement discredited at the outset by unneces- 
sary bloodshed or by any wanton outrages." 

O'Halloran smothered a smile. "Quite right, 
sefior. Success at all hazards, but, if possible, suc- 
cess with peace. And, faith, subject to the ap- 
proval of the rest of those present, I do hereby ap- 
point you keeper of the governor's person and his 
palace, as well as all that do dwell therein, includ- 
ing his man servants, his maid servants, and his 
daughter. We hold you personally responsible for 
their safe keeping. See that none of them cherish 
the enemy or give aid and comfort to them." The 
Irishman finished, with a broad smile that seemed 
to say: "Bedad, there's a clear field. Go in and 
win, me bye." 

Nothing could be done in broad daylight, while 
the troops of the government party patrolled the 
streets and were prepared to pounce on the first 
suspects that poked their noses out of the holes 

215 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



where they were hidden. Nevertheless, their spies 
were busy all day, reporting to the opposition lead- 
ers everything that happened of interest. In the 
course of the day General Valdez, the father of 
Juan, was arrested on suspicion of complicity and 
thrown into prison, as were a score of others 
thought to be in touch with the Valdez faction. All 
day the troops of the governor were fussily busy, 
but none of the real leaders of the insurgents was 
taken. For General Valdez, though he had been se- 
lected on account of his integrity and great popu- 
larity to succeed Megales, was unaware of the plot 
on foot to retire the dictator from power. 

It was just after nightfall that a farmer drove 
into Chihuahua with a wagonload of alfalfa. He 
was halted once or twice by guards on the streets, 
but, after a very cursory inspection, was allowed to 
pass. His route took him past the back of the gov- 
ernor's palace, an impressive stone affair sur- 
rounded by beautiful grounds. Here he stopped, 
as if to fasten a tug. Out of the hay tumbled fif- 
teen men armed with rifles and revolvers, all of 
them being careful to leave the wagon on the side 
farthest from the palace. 

"Now, me lads, we're all heroes by our talk. It's 
up to us to make good. I can promise one thing: 
by this time to-morrow we'll all be live patriots or 
dead traitors. Which shall it be?" 

O'Halloran's concluding question was a merely 
rhetorical one, for without waiting for an answer 

216 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



he started at the double toward the palace, taking 
advantage of the dense shrubbery that offered cover 
up to the last twenty yards. This last was cov- 
ered with a rush so rapid that the guard was sur- 
prised into a surrender without a protest 
f Double guard was on duty on account of the 
strained situation, but the officer in charge, having 
been won over to the Valdez side, had taken care to 
pick them with much pains. As a consequence, the 
insurgents met friends in place of enemies, and 
within three minutes controlled fully the palace. 
Every entrance was at once closed and guarded, so 
that no news of the reversal could reach the military 
barracks. 

So silently had the palace been taken that, ex- 
cept the guards and one or two servants held as 
prisoners, not even those living within it were 
aware of anything unusual. 

"Sefior Valdez, you are appointed to notify the 
senorita that she need not be alarmed at what has 
occurred. Sefior Garcia will act as captain of the 
day, and allow nobody to leave the building under 
any pretext whatever. I shall personally put the 
tyrant under arrest. Rodrigo and Jose will ac- 
company me." 

O'Halloran left his subordinates at the door when 
he entered the apartments of the governor. The 
outer room was empty, and the Irishman passed 
through it to the inner one, where Megales was 
accustomed to take his after-dinner siesta. 

217 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



To-night, however, that gentleman was in no 
mood for peaceful reflection followed by slum- 
ber. He was on the edge of a volcano, and he 
knew it. The question was whether he could hold 
the lid on without an eruption. General Valdez he 
dared not openly kill, on account of his fame and 
his popularity, but that pestilent Irishman O'Hallo- 
ran could be assassinated and so could several of 
his allies if they only gave him time. That was 
the rub. The general dissatisfaction at his rule had 
been no secret, of course, but the activity of the 
faction opposing him, the boldness and daring with 
which it had risked all to overthrow him, had come 
as so complete a surprise that he had been unpre- 
pared to meet it. Everywhere to-night his guards 
covered the city, ready to crush rebellion as soon 
as it showed its head. Carlo was in personal charge 
of the troops, and would remain so until after the 
election to-morrow, at w 7 hich he would be declared 
formally reflected. If he could keep his hands on 
the reins for twenty-four hours more the worst 
would be past. He would give a good deal to know 
what that mad Irishman, O'Halloran, was doing 
just now. If he could once get hold of him, the 
opposition would collapse like a house of cards. 

At that precise moment in walked the mad Irish- 
man pat to the Mexican's thought of him. 

"Buenos noches, excellency. I understand you 
have been looking for me. I am, seiior, yours to 

218 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



command." The big Irishman brought his heels 
together and gave a mocking military salute. 

The governor's first thought was that he was a 
victim of treachery, his second that he was a dead 
man, his third that he would die as a Spanish gen- 
tleman ought. He was pale to the eyes, but he lost 
no whit of his dignity. 

"You have, I suppose, taken the palace," he said 
quietly. 

"As a loan, excellency, merely as a loan. After 
to-morrow it will be returned you in the event 
you still need it," replied O'Halloran blandly. 

"You expect to murder me, of course?" 

The big Celt looked shocked. "Not at all ! The 
bulletins may perhaps have to report you accident- 
ally killed or a victim of suicide. Personally I hope 
not." 

"I understand ; but before this lamentable accident 
happens I beg leave to assure myself that the palace 
really is in your hands, senor. A mere formality, 
of course." The governor smiled his thin-lipped 
smile and touched a bell beside him. 

Twice Megales pressed the electric bell, but no 
orderly appeared in answer to it. He bowed to the 
inevitable. 

"I grant you victor, Senor O'Halloran. Would 
it render your victory less embarrassing if I were 
to give you material immediately for that bulletin 
on suicide?" He asked the question quite without 

219 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



emotion, as courteously as if he were proposing a 
stroll through the gardens. 

O'Halloran had never liked the man. The Irish 
in him had always boiled at his tyranny. But he 
had never disliked him so little as at this moment. 
The fellow had pluck, and that was one certain 
passport to the revolutionist's favor. 

"On the contrary, it would distress me exceed- 
ingly. Let us reserve that bulletin as a regrettable 
possibility in the event that less drastic measures 
fail." 

"Which means, I infer, that you have need of 
me before I pass by the Socratic method," he sug- 
gested, still with that pale smile set in granite. 
"I shall depend on you to let me know at what 
precise hour you would like to order an epitaph 
written for me. Say the word at your conveni- 
ence, and within five minutes your bulletin con- 
cerning the late governor will have the merit of 
truth." 

"Begad, excellency, I like your spirit. If it's 
my say-so, you will live to be a hundred. Come, 
the cards are against you. Some other day they 
piay fall more pat for you. But the jig's up now." 

"I am very much of your opinion, sir," agreed 
Megales. 

"Then why not make terms?" 

"Such as " 

"Your life and your friends' lives against a 
graceful capitulation." 

220 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Our lives as prisoners or as free men?" 

"The utmost freedom compatible with the cir- 
cumstances. Your friends may either leave or re- 
main and accept the new order of things. I am 
i afraid it will be necessary for you and General 
' Carlo to leave the state for your own safety. You 
have both many enemies.'* 

"With our personal possessions?" 

"Of course. Such property as you cannot well 
take may be left in the hands of an agent and dis- 
posed of later." 

Megales eyed him narrowly. "Is it your opinion, 
on honor, that the general and I would reach the 
boundaries of the State without being assassi- 
nated?" 

"I pledge you my honor and that of Juan Val- 
dez that you will be safely escorted out of the coun- 
try if you will consent to a disguise. It is only 
fair to him to say that he stands strong for your 
life." 

"Then, sir, I accept your terms if you can make 
it plain to me that you are strong enough to take 
the city against General Carlo." 
> From his pocket O'Halloran drew a typewritten 
'list and handed it to the governor, who glanced it 
over with interest. 

"These army officers are all with you?" 

"As soon as the word is given." 

"You will pardon me if I ask for proof?" 

"Certainly. Choose the name of any one of 

221 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



them you like and send for him. You are at lib- 
erty to ask him whether he is pledged to us." 

The governor drew a pencil-mark through a 
name. O'Halloran clapped his hands and Rodrigo 
came into the room. 

"Rodrigo, the governor desires you to carry a 
message to Colonel Onate. He is writing it now. 
You will give Colonel Onate my compliments and 
ask him to make as much haste as is convenient." 

Megales signed and sealed the note he was writ- 
ing and handed it to O'Halloran, who in turn 
passed it to Rodrigo. 

"Colonel Onate should be here in fifteen minutes 
at the farthest. May I in the meantime offer you 
a glass of wine, Dictator O'Halloran?" At the 
Irishman's smile, the Mexican governor hastened 
to add, misunderstanding him purposely: "Per- 
haps I assume too much in taking the part of host 
here. May I ask whether you will be governor 
in person or by deputy, sefior?" 

"You do me too much honor, excellency. 
Neither in person nor by deputy, I fear. And, as 
for the glass of wine with all my heart. Good 
liquor is always in order, whether for a funeral 
or a marriage." 

"Or an abdication, you might add. I drink to 
a successful reign, Sefior Dictator: Le roi est 
mart; vive le roil" 

The Irishman filled a second glass. "And I 
222 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



drink to Governor Megales, a brave man. May 
the cards fall better for him next time he plays." 

The governor bowed ironically. "A brave man 
certainly, and you might add : 'Who loses his stake 
without striking one honest blow for it.' ' 

"We play with stacked cards, excellency. Who 
can forestall the treachery of trusted associates?" 

"Sir, your apology for me is very generous, no 
less so than the terms you offer," returned Megales 
sardonically. 

O'Halloran laughed. "Well, if you don't like my 
explanations I shall have to let you make your own. 
And, by the way, may I venture on a delicate per- 
sonal matter, your excellency?" 

"I can deny you nothing to-night, senor," an- 
swered Megales, mocking at himself. 

"Young Valdez is in love with your daughter. 
I am sure that she is fond of him, but she is very 
loyal to you and flouts the lad. I was thinking, sir, 
that " 

The Spaniard's eye flashed, but his answer came 

suavely as he interrupted: "Don't you think you 

had better leave Senor Valdez and me to arrange 

)our own family affairs? We could not think of 

, troubling you to attend to them." 

"He is a good lad and a brave." 

Megales bowed. "Your recommendation goes 
a long way with me, senor, and, in truth, I have 
known him only a small matter of twenty years 
longer than you." 

223 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Never a more loyal youngster in the land." 

"You think so? A matter of definitions, one 
may suppose. Loyal to the authorized government 
of his country, or to the rebels who would illegally 
overthrow it?" 

"Egad, you have me there, excellency. 'Tis a" 
question of point of view, I'm thinking. But you'll 
never tell me the lad pretended one thing and did 
another. I'll never believe you like that milksop 
Chaves better." 

"Must I choose either a fool or a knave?" 

"I doubt it will be no choice of yours. Juan 
Valdez is an ill man to deny what he sets his heart 
on. If the lady is willing " 

"I shall give her to the knave and wash my hands 
of her. Since treason thrives she may at last come 
back to the palace as its mistress. Quien sabef 

"Less likely things have happened. What news, 
Rodrigo?" This last to the messenger, who at 
that moment appeared at the door. 

"Colonel Onate attends, senor." 

"Show him in." 

Onate was plainly puzzled at the summons to 
attend the governor, and mixed with his perplexity 
was a very evident anxiety. He glanced quickly 
at O'Halloran as he entered, as if asking for gui- 
dance, and then as questioningly at Megales. Had 
the Irishman played Judas and betrayed them all? 
Or was the coup already played with success? 

"Colonel Onate, I have sent for you at the re- 

22J. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



quest of Governor Megales to set his mind at rest 
on a disturbing point. His health is failing and 
he considers the advisability of retiring from the 
active cares of state. I have assured him that you, 
among others, would, under such circumstances, be 
in a friendly relation to the next administration. 
Am I correct in so assuring him?" 

Megales pierced him with his beady eyes. "In 
other words, Colonel Onate, are you one of the 
traitors involved in this rebellion?" 

"I prefer the word patriot, senor," returned 
Onate, flushing. 

"Indeed! I have no doubt you do. I am an- 
swered," he exclaimed scornfully. "And what is 
the price of patriotism these days, colonel?" 

"Sir!" The colonel laid his hand on his sword. 

"I was merely curious to know what position 
you would hold under the new administration." 

O'Halloran choked a laugh, for by chance the 
governor had hit the nail on the head. Onate was 
to be Secretary of State under Valdez, and this 
was the bait that had been dangled temptingly under 
his nose to induce a desertion of Megales. 

"If you mean to reflect upon my honor I can as- 
sure you that my conscience is clear," answered 
Onate blackly. 

"Indeed, colonel, I do not doubt it. I have al- 
ways admired your conscience and its adaptability." 
The governor turned to O'Halloran. "I am satis- 
fied, Senor Dictator. If you will permit me " 

225 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



He walked to his desk, unlocked a drawer, and 
drew forth a parchment, which he tossed across to 
the Irishman. "It is my commission as governor. 
Allow me to place it in your hands and put myself 
at the service of the new administration." 

"If you will kindly write notes, I will send a 
messenger to General Carlo and another to Colonel 
Gabilonda requesting their attendance. I think af- 
fairs may be quickly arranged." 

"You are irresistible, senor. I hasten to obey." 

Megales sat down and wrote two notes, which 
he turned over to O'Halloran. The latter read 
them, saw them officially sealed, and dispatched 
them to their destinations. 

When Gabilonda was announced, General Carlo 
followed almost at his heels. The latter glanced in 
surprise at O'Halloran. 

"Where did you catch him, excellency ?" he asked. 

"I did not catch him. He has caught me, and, 
incidentally, you, general," answered the sardonic 
Megales. 

"In short, general," laughed the big Irishman, 
"the game is up." 

"But the army You haven't surrendered 
without a fight?" 

"That is precisely what I have done. Cast your 
eye over that paper, general, and then tell me of 
what use the army would be to us. Half the 
officers are with the enemy, among them the 
patriotic Colonel Onate, whom you see present. A 

226 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



resistance would be futile, and would only result 
in useless bloodshed." 

"I don't believe it," returned Carlo bluntly. 

"Seeing is believing, general," returned O'Hal- 
loran, and he gave a little nod to Onate. 

The colonel left the room, and two or three min- 
utes later a bell began to toll. 

"What does that mean?" asked Carlo. 

"The call to arms, general. It means that the 
old regime is at an end in Chihuahua. Viva Val- 
dez." 

"Not without a struggle," cried the general, rush- 
out but of the room. 

O'Halloran laughed. "I'm afraid he will not be 
able to give the countersign to Garcia. In the 
meantime, excellency, pending his return, I would 
suggest that you notify Colonel Gabilonda to turn 
over the prison to us without resistance." 

"You hear your new dictator, colonel," said 
Megales. 

"Pardon me, your excellency, but a written order 



"Would relieve you of responsibility. So it 
would. I write once more." 

He was interrupted as he wrote by a great shout 
from the plaza. "Viva V aides!'' came clearly 
across the night air, and presently another that 
stole the color from the cheek of Megales. 

"Death to the tyrant! Death to Megales!" re- 
peated the governor, after the shouts reached them. 

227 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I fear, Sefior Dictator, that your pledge to see 
me across the frontier will not avail against that 
mad-dog mob." He smiled, waving an airy hand 
toward the window. 

The Irishman se. '--is bulldog jaw. "I'll get you 
4 out safely or, begad! I'll go down fighting with 
you." 

"I think we are likely to have interesting times, 
my dear dictator. Be sure I shall watch your do- 
ings with interest so long as your friends allow 
me to watch anything in this present world." The 
governor turned to his desk and continued the let- 
ter with a firm hand. "I think this should relieve 
you of responsibility, colonel." 

By this time General Carlo had reentered the 
room, with a crestfallen face. 

O'Halloran had been thinking rapidly. "Gover- 
nor, I think the safest place for you and General 
Carlo, for a day or two, will be in the prison. I 
intend to put my friend O'Connor in charge of its 
defense, with a trustworthy command. There is 
no need of word reaching the mob as to where you 
are hidden. I confess the quarters will be nar- 
row, but " 

"No narrower than those we shall occupy very 
soon if we do not accept your suggestion," smiled 
Megales. "Buenos! Anything to escape the press- 
ing attentions of your friends outside. I ask only 
one favor, the loan of a revolver, in order that 

228 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



we may disappoint the mad dogs if they overpower 
the guard of Senor O'Connor." 

Hastily O'Halloran rapped out orders, gathered 
together a little force of five men, and prepared 
to start. Both Carlo and Megales he furnished 
with revolvers, that they might put an end to their 
lives in case the worst happened. But before they 
had started Juan Valdez and Carmencita Megales 
came running toward them. 

"Where are you going? It is too late. The 
palace is surrounded!" cried the young man. 
"Look!" He swept an excited arm toward the 
window. "There are thousands and thousands of 
frenzied people calling for the lives of the governor 
and General Carlo." 

Carlo shook like a leaf, but Megales only smiled 
at O'Halloran his wintry smile. "That is the 
trouble in keeping a mad dog, senor. One never 
knows when it may get out of leash and bite per- 
haps even the hand that feeds it." 

Carmencita flung herself, sobbing, into the arms 
of her father and filled the palace with her screams. 
Megales handed her over promptly to her lover. 

"To my private office," he ordered briskly. 
"Come, general, there is still a chance." 

O'Halloran failed to see it, but he joined -the lit- 
tle group that hurried to the private office. Me- 
gales dragged his desk from the corner where it 
set and touched a spring that opened a panel in 
the wall. Carlo, blanched with fear at the threats 

229 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



and curses that filled the night, sprang toward the 
passageway that appeared. 

Megales plucked him back. "One moment, gen- 
eral. Ladies first. Carmencita, enter." 

Carlo followed her, after him the governor, and 
lastly Gabilonda, tearing himself from a whis- 
pered conversation with O'Halloran. The panel 
swung closed again, and Valdez and O'Halloran 
1 lifted back the desk just as Garcia came running 
in to say that the mob would not be denied. Im- 
mediately O'Halloran threw open a French win- 
dow and stepped out to the little railed porch upon 
which it opened. He had the chance of his life to 
make a speech, and that is the one thing that no 
Irishman can resist. He flung out from his re- 
volver three shots in rapid succession to draw the 
attention of the mob to him. In this he succeeded 
beyond his hopes. The word ran like wildfire that 
the mad Irishman, O'Halloran, was about to de- 
liver a message to them, and from all sides of the 
building they poured to hear it. He spoke in Mex- 
ican, rapidly, his great bull voice reaching to the 
utmost confines of the crowd. 

"Fellow lovers of liberty, the hour has struck 
that we have worked and prayed for. The glori- 
ous redemption of our State has been accomplished 
by your patriotic hands. An hour ago the tyrants, 
Megales and Carlo, slipped out of the palace, 
mounted swift horses, and are galloping toward 
the frontier." 

230 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



A roar of rage, such as a tiger disappointed of 
its kill might give, rose into the night. Such a ter- 
rible cry no man made of flesh and blood could 
hear directed at him and not tremble. 

"But the pursuit is already on. Swift riders arej 
in chase, with orders not to spare their horses so 
only they capture the fleeing despots. We expect 
confidently that before morning the tyrants will be 
in our hands. In the meantime, let us show our- 
selves worthy of the liberty we have won. Let us 
neither sack nor pillage, but show our great presi- 
dent in the City of Mexico that not ruffians but an 
outraged people have driven out the oppressors." 

The huge Celt was swimming into his periods 
beautifully, but it was very apparent to him that 
the mob must have a vent for its stored excite- 
ment. An inspiration seized him. 

"But one sacred duty calls to us from heaven, my 
fellow citizens. Already I see in your glorious 
faces that you behold the duty. Then forward, 
patriots! To the plaza, and let us tear down, let 
us destroy by fire, let us annihilate the statue of 
the dastard Megales which defaces our fair city. 
Citizens, to your patriotic duty!" 

Another wild yell rang skyward, and at once the 
fringes of the crowd began to vanish plazaward, its 
centre began to heave, its flanks to stir. Three 
minutes later the grounds of the palace were again 
dark and empty. The Irishman's oratory had won 
the day. 

231 



CHAPTER XV. 

IN THE SECRET CHAMBER. 

The escaping party groped its way along the 
passage in the wall, down a rough, narrow flight 
of stone steps to a second tunnel, and along this 
underground way for several hundred yards. 
Since he was the only one familiar with the path 
they were traversing, the governor took the lead 
and guided the others. At a distance of perhaps 
an eighth of a mile from the palace the tunnel 
forked. Without hesitation, Megales kept to the 
right. A stone's throw beyond this point of di- 
vergence there began to be apparent a perceptible 
descent which terminated in a stone wall that 
blocked completely the way. 

Megales reached up and put his weight on a 
rope suspended from the roof. Slowly the solid 
masonry swung on a pivot, leaving room on either 
side for a person to squeeze through. The gov- 
ernor found it a tight fit, as did also Gabilonda. 

"I was more slender last time I passed through 
there. It has been several years since then," said 
the governor, giving his daughter a hand to assist 
her through. 

They found themselves in a small chamber fitted 
up as a living room in a simple way. There were 

232 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



three plain chairs, a bed, a table, and a dresser, as 
well as a cooking stove. 

"This must be close to the prison. We have 
been coming in that direction all the time. It is 
strange that it could be so near and I not know 
of it," said the warden, looking around curiously. 

Megales smiled. "I am the only person alive 
that knew of the existence of this room or of the 
secret passage until half an hour ago. I had it 
built a few years since by Yaquis when I was 
warden of the prison. The other end, the one 
opening from the palace, I had finished after I be- 
came governor." 

"But surely the men who built it know of its 
existence/' 

Again Megales smiled. "I thought you knew 
me better, Carlo. The Yaquis who built this were 
condemned raiders. I postponed their execution a 
few months while they were working on this. It 
was a convenience both to them and to me." 

"And is also a convenience to me," smiled Carlo, 
who was beginning to recover from his terror. 

"But I don't quite understand yet how we are 
to get out of here except by going back the way 
we came," said Gabilonda. 

"Which for some of us might prove a danger- 
ously unhealthy journey. True, colonel, and there- 
fore one to be avoided." Megales stepped to the 
wall, spanned with his fingers a space from the 
floor above a joint in the masonry, and pressed 

233 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



against the concrete. Inch by inch the wall fell 
back and opened into a lower corridor of the prison, 
the very one indeed which led to the cell in which 
Bucky and his love were imprisoned. Cautiously 
the Spaniard's glance traveled down the passage to 
see it was empty before he opened the panel door 
more than enough to look through. Then he beck- 
oned to Gabilonda. "Behold, doubting Thomas !" 

The warden gasped. "And I never knew it, 
never had a suspicion of it." 

"But this only brings us from one prison to an- 
other," objected the general. "We might be penned 
in here as well as at the castle." 

"Even that contingency has been provided for. 
You noticed, perhaps, where the tunnel forked. 
The left branch runs down to the river-wash, and 
by ten minutes' digging with the tools lying there 
one can force an exit." 

"Your excellency is certainly a wonder, and all 
this done without arousing the least suspicion of 
anybody," admired the warden. 

"The wise man, my dear colonel, prepares for 
emergencies; the fool trusts to his luck," replied 
the governor dryly. 

"Are we to stay here for the present, colonel?" 
broke in the governor's daughter. "And can you 
furnish accommodations for the rest of us if we 
stay all night, as I expect we must?" 

"My dear senorita, I have accommodations and 
to spare. But the trouble is that your presence 

234 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



would become known. I should be the happiest 
man alive to put my all at the accommodation of 
Chihuahua's fairest daughter. But if it should 

get out that you are here " Gabilonda stopped 

to shrug his fat shoulders at the prospect. 

"We shall have to stay here, or, at least, in the 
lower tier of cells. I'm sorry, Carmencita, but 
there is no other course compatible with safety," 
decided Megales promptly. 

The warden's face cleared. "That is really not 
a point for me to decide, governor. This young 
American, O'Connor, is now in charge of the 
prison. I must release him at once, and shall then 
bring him here to confer with you as to means of 
safety." 

Bucky's eyes opened wide when Gabilonda and 
Megales came alone and without a lantern to his 
sell. In the darkness it was impossible to recog- 
nize them, but once within the closed cell the war- 
den produced a dark lantern from under his coat. 

"Circumstances have arisen that make the utmost 
vigilance necessary," explained the warden. "I 
may begin my explanations by congratulating you 
and your young friend. Let me offer a thousand 
felicitations. Neither of you are any longer pris- 



oners/ 1 



If he expected either of them to fall on his neck 
and weep tears of gratitude at his pompous an- 
nouncement, the colonel was disappointed. From 
the darkness where the ranger's little partner sat 

235 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



on the bed came a deep sigh of relief, but O'Connor 
did not wink an eyelash. 

"I may conclude, then, that Mike O'Halloran has 
been getting in his work?" was his cool reply. 

"Exactly, senor. He is the man on horseback 
and I travel afoot," smiled Megales. 

Bucky looked him over coolly from head to foot. 
"Still I can't quite understand why your ex-excel- 
lency does me the honor of a personal visit." 

"Because, senor, in the course of human events 
Providence has seen fit to reverse our positions. I 
am now your prisoner and you my jailer," ex- 
plained Megales, and urbanely added a whimsical 
question. "Shall you have me hanged at dawn?" 

"It would be a pleasure, and, I reckon, a duty 
too. But I can't promise till I've seen Mike. Do 
some more explaining, colonel. I want to know all 
about the round-up O'Halloran is boss of. Did he 
make a right good gather?" 

The subtleties of American humor baffled the 
little Mexican, but he appreciated the main drift 
of the ranger's query, and narrated with much ges- 
ticulation the story of the coup that O'Halloran 
had pulled off in capturing the government leaders. 

"It was an exceedingly neat piece of strategy," 
its victim admitted. "I would give a good deal to 
have the privilege of hanging your red-headed 
friend, but since that is denied me, I must be grate- 
ful he does not take a fancy to hang me." 

236 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"In case he doesn't, your excellency," was 
Bucky's addendum. 

"I understand he has decided to deport me," re- 
torted Megales lightly. "It is perhaps better poli- 
tics, on the whole, better even than a knife in the 
back." 

"Unless rumor is a lying jade, you should be 
a good judge of that, governor," said the Ameri- 
can, eying him sternly. 

Megales shrugged. "One of the penalties of 
fame is that one gets credit for much he does not 
deserve. There was your immortal General Lin- 
coln, a wit so famous in your country that every 
good story is fathered upon him, I understand. So 
with your humble servant. Let a man accomplish 
his vendetta upon the body of an enemy, and be- 
hold! the world cries: 'A victim of Megales/ ' 

"Still, if you deserve your reputation as much 
as 'our immortal General Lincoln' deserves his, the 
world may be pardoned for an occasional error." 
O'Connor turned to the warden. "What does he 
mean by saying that he is my prisoner ? Have you 
a message for me from O'Halloran, colonel?" 

"It is his desire, senor, that, pending the present 
uncertain state of public opinion, you accept the 
command of the prison and hold safe all persons 
detained here, including his excellency and General 
Carlo. He desired me to assure you that as soon 
as is possible he will arrive to confer with you in 
person." 

237 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Good enough, and are you a prisoner, too, 
colonel?" 

"I did not so understand Senor O'Halloran." 

"If you're not you have to earn your grub and 
lodgings. I'll appoint you my deputy, colonel. 
And, first off, my orders are to lock up his ex- 
excellency and General Carlo in this cell till morn- 
ing." 

"The cell, Sefior O'Connor, is damp and badly 
ventilated," protested Gabilonda. 

"I know that a heap better than you do, colo- 
nel," said Bucky dryly. "But if it was good 
enough for me and my pardner, here, I reckon it's 
good enough for them. Anyhow, we'll let them 
try it, won't we, Frank?" 

"If you think best, Bucky." 

"You bet I do." 

"And what about the governor's daughter?" 
asked Gabilonda. 

"You don't say! Is she a guest of this tavern?" 

The colonel explained how they had reached the 
prison and the circumstances that had led to their 
hurried flight, while the ranger whistled the air 
of a cowboy song, his mind busy with this new 
phase of the case. 

"She's one of these here Spanish blue-blooded 
senoritas used to guitar serenades under her win- 
dow. Now, what would you do with her in a jail, 
Bucky?" he asked himself, in humorous dismay; 
but even as he reflected on it his roving eye fell on 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



his friend. "The very thing. I'll take Curly Raid 
in to her and let them fall in love with each other. 
You're liable to be some busy, Bucky, and shy on 
leisure to entertain a lady, let alone two." 

And so he arranged it. Leaving the former gov- 
ernor and General Carlo in the cell just vacated by 
them, Frances and he accompanied Gabilonda to 
the secret room behind the corridor wall. 

All three parties to the introduction that followed 
acknowledged secretly to a surprise. Miss Carmen- 
cita had expected the friend of big, rough, homely 
O'Halloran to resemble him in kind, at least. In- 
stead, she looked on a bronzed young Apollo of the 
saddle with something of that same lithe grace 
she knew and loved in Juan Valdez. And the shy 
boy beside him why, the darling was sweet enough 
to kiss. The big, brown, helpless eyes, the blush- 
ing, soft cheeks, the crop of thick, light curls were 
details of an extraordinarily taking picture. Really, 
if these two were fair specimens, Americans were 
not so bad, after all. Which conclusion Juan Val- 
dez's fondness for that race may have helped in 
^>art to form. 

But if the young Spanish girl found a little 
current of pleasure in her surprise, Bucky and his 
friend were aware of the same sensation. All the 
charm of her race seemed summed up in Car- 
mencita Megales. She was of blue blood, every 
feature and motion told that. The fine, easy set 
of her head, the fire in the dark, heavy-lashed eyes, 

239 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



the sweep of dusky chin and cheek and throat cer- 
tified the same story. She had, too, that coquet- 
tish hint of uncertainty, that charm of mystery 
so fatal in its lure to questing man. Even physic- 
ally the contradiction of sex attracted. Slender 
and lissom as a fawn, she was yet a creature of ex- 
quisitely rounded curves. Were her eyes brown or 
black or in the sunlight touched with a gleam of 
copper? There was always uncertainty. But much 
more was there fire, a quality that seemed to flash 
out from her inner self. She was a child of whims, 
a victim of her moods. Yet in her, too, was a 
passionate loyalty that made fickleness impossible. 
She knew how to love and how to hate, and, de- 
spite her impulses, was capable of surrender com- 
plete and irrevocable. 

All of this Bucky did not read in that first mo- 
ment of meeting, but the shrewd judgment behind 
the level blue eyes came to an appraisal roughly 
just. Before she had spoken three sentences he 
knew she had all her sex's reputed capacity for 
injustice as well as its characteristic flashes of gen- 
erosity. 

"Are you one of the men who have rebelled 
against my father and attempted to murder him?" 
she flashed. 

"I'm the man he condemned to be hanged to- 
morrow morning at dawn for helping Juan Valdez 
take the guns," retorted Bucky, with a laugh. 

"You are his enemy, and, therefore, mine." 
240 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I'm a friend of Michael O'Halloran, who stood 
between him and the mob that wanted to kill him." 

"Who first plotted against him and seduced his 
officers to betray him," she quickly replied. 

"I reckon, ma'am, we better agree to disagree on 
politics," said Bucky good-naturedly. "We're sure 
liable to see things different from each other. Cas- 
tile and Arizona don't look at things with the same 
eyes." 

She looked at him just then with very beautiful 
and scornful ones, at any rate. "I should hope 
not." 

"You see, we're living in the twentieth century 
up in the sunburned State," said Bucky, with smil- 
ing aplomb. 

"Indeed! And we poor Chihuahuans ?" 

"When I see the ladies I think you're ce'tainly 
in the golden age, but when I break into your poli- 
tics, I'm some reminded of that Richard Third fel- 
low in the Shakespeare play." 

"Referring, I presume, to my father?" she de- 
manded haughtily. 

"In a general way, but eliminating the most ob- 
jectionable points of the king fellow." 

"You're very kind." She interrupted her scorn 
to ask him where he meant her to sleep. 

He glanced over the room. "This might do 
right here, if we had that bed aired." 

"Do you expect to put me in irons?" 

"Not right away. Colonel, I'll ask you to go 
241 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



to the office and notify me as soon as Sefior O'Hal- 
loran arrives." He waited till the colonel had 
gone before adding: "I'm going to leave this boy 
with you, sefiorita, for a while. He'll explain some 
things to you that I can't. In about an hour I'll 
be back, perhaps sooner. So long, Curly. Tell the 
lady your secret." And with that Bucky was out 
of the room. 

"Your secret, child! What does he mean?" 

The flame of color that swept into the cheeks of 
Frances, the appeal in the shamed eyes, held Car- 
mencita's surprised gaze. Then coolly it traveled 
over the girl and came back to her burning face. 

"So that's it, is it?" 

But the scorn in her voice was too much for 
Frances. She had been judged and condemned in 
that cool stare, and all the woman in her protested 
at its injustice. 

"No, no, no!" she cried, running forward and 
catching at the other's hand. "I'm not that. You 
don't understand." 

Coldly Carmencita disengaged her hand and 
wiped it with her kerchief. "I understand enough. 
Please do not touch me." 

"May I not tell you my story?" 

"I'll not trouble you. It does not interest me." 

"But you will listen?" implored the other. 

"I must ask to be excused." 

"Then you are a heartless, cruel woman," flamed 
Frances. "I'm good as good as you are."_ The 

242 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



color patched her cheek and ebbed again. "I 
wouldn't treat a dog as you do me. Oh, cruel, 
cruel!" 

The surprising extravagance of her protest, the 
despair that rang in the fresh young voice, caugh t 
the interest of the Mexican girl. Surely such a 
heart-broken cry did not consist with guilt. But 
the facts when a young and pretty girl mas- 
querades through the country in the garb of a boy 
with a handsome young man, not much room for 
doubt is left. 

Frances was quick to see that the issue was re- 
opened. "Oh, senorita, it isn't as you think. Do 

I look like " She broke off to cover with her 

hands a face in which the pink and white warred 
with alternate success. "I ought not to have come. 
I ought never to have come. I see that now. But 
I didn't think he would know. You see, I had al- 
ways passed as a boy when I wanted to." 

"A remarkably pretty one, child," said Miss Car- 
mencita, a smile dimpling her cheeks. "But how 
do you mean that you had passed as a boy?" 

Frances explained, giving a rapid sketch of her 
life with the Hardmans during which she had ap- 
peared every night on the stage as a boy without 
the deception being suspected. She had cultivated 
the tricks and ways of boys, had tried to dress to 
carry out the impression, and had always succeeded 
until she had made the mistake of putting on a 
gypsy girl's dress a couple of days before. 

243 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Carmencita heard her out, but not as a judge. 
Very early in the story her doubts fled and she 
succumbed to the mothering instinct in her. She 
took the American girl in her arms and laughed 
and cried with her; for her imagination seized on 
the romance of the story and delighted in its fresh 
unconventionality. Since she had been born Car- 
mencita's life had been ordered for her with preci- 
sion by the laws of caste. Her environment 
wrapped her in so that she must follow a set and 
beaten path. It was, to be sure, a flower-strewn 
one, but often she impotently rebelled against its 
very orderliness. And here in her arms was a vic- 
tim of that adventurous romance she had always 
longed so passionately to know. Was it wonder 
she found it in her heart to both love and envy the 
subject of it? 

"And this young cavalier the Senor Bucky, is 
it you call him? surely you love him, my dear." 

"Oh, senorita!" The blushing face was buried 
on her new friend's shoulder. "You don't know 
how good he is." 

"Then tell me," smiled the other. "And call me 
Carmencita." 

"He is so brave, and patient, and good. I know 
there was never a man like him." 

Miss Carmencita thought of one and demurred 
silently. "I'm sure this paragon of lovers is at 
least part of what you say. Does he love you? 
But I am sure he couldn't help it." 

244 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Sometimes I think he does, but once " 

Frances broke off to ask, in a pink flame: "How 
does a lover act?" 

Miss Carmencita's laughter rippled up. "Gra- 
cious me, have you never had one before." 

"Never." 

"Well, he should make verses to you and pretty 
speeches. He should sing serenades about undying 
love under your window. Bonbons should bom- 
bard you, roses make your rooms a bower. He 
should be ardent as Romeo, devoted as a knight of 
old. These be the signs of a true love," she 
laughed. 

Frances' face fell. If these were the tokens of 
true love, her ranger was none. For not one of the 
symptoms could fairly be said to fit him. Perhaps, 
after all, she had given him what he did not want. 

"Must he do all that? Must he make verses?" 
she asked blankly, not being able to associate Bucky 
with poetasting. 

"He must," teased her tormentor, running a 
saucy eye over her boyish garb. "And why not 
with so fair a Rosalind for a subject ?" She broke 
off to quote in her pretty, uncertain English, ac- 
quired at a convent in the United States, where she. 
had attended school: 

"From the east to western Ind, 

No jewel is like Rosalind. 

Her worth, being mounted on the wind, 

Through all the world bears Rosalind. 

245 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



All the pictures, fairest lin'd, 
Are but black to Rosalind. 
Let no face be kept in mind 
But the fair of Rosalind." 

So your Shakespeare has it, does he not ?" she asked, 
reverting again to the Spanish language, in which 
they had been talking. But swift on the heels of 
her raillery came repentance. She caught the dispir- 
ited girl to her embrace laughingly. "No, no, child ! 
Nonsense ripples from my tongue. These follies 
are but for a carpet lover. You shall tell me more 
of your Sefior Bucky and I shall make no sport 
of it." 

When Bucky returned at the expiration of the 
time he had set himself, he found them with their 
arms twined about each other's waists, whispering 
the confidences that every girl on the threshold of 
womanhood has to tell her dearest friend. 

"I reckon you like my pardner better than you do 
me/' smiled Bucky to Miss Carmencita. 

"A great deal better, sir, but then I know him 
better." 

Bucky's eyes rested for a moment almost ten- 
derly on Frances. "I reckon he is better worth 
knowing," he said. 

"Indeed! And you so brave, and patient, and 
good?" she mocked. 

"Oh! Am I all that?" asked Bucky easily. 

"So I have been given to understand." 

Out of the corner of his eye O'Connor caught the 
embarrassed, reproachful look that Frances gave 

246 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



her audacious friend, and he found it easy to fit 
quotation marks round the admirable qualities that 
had just been ascribed to him. He guessed himself 
blushing a deux with his little friend, and also di- 
vined Miss Carmencita's roguish merriment at their 
confusion. 

"I am all those things you mentioned and a heap 
more you forgot to say," claimed the ranger boldly, 
to relieve the situation. "Only I didn't know for 
sure that folks had found it out. My mind's a heap 
easier to know I'm being appreciated proper at last.'* 

Under her long, dark lashes Miss Carmencita 
looked at him in gentle derision. "I'm of opinion, 
sir, that you get all the appreciation that is good for 
you." 

Bucky carried the war into the enemy's country. 
"Which same, I expect, might be said of Chihua- 
hua's most beautiful belle. And, talking of Senor 
Valdez reminds me that I owe a duty to his father, 
who is confined here. I'll be saying good night, 
ladies." 

"It's high time," agreed Miss Megales. "Talk- 
ing of Senor Valdez, indeed!" 

"Good night, Curly Haid." 

"Good night, Bucky." 

To which, in mocking travesty, added, in Eng- 
lish, Miss Carmencita, who seemed to have an acute 
attack of Shakespeare: 

"Good night, good night ; parting is such sweet sorrow 
That I shall say good night till it be morrow." 

247 



CHAPTER XVI. 

JUAN VALDEZ SCORES. 

The first thing Bucky did after leaving the two 
young women was to go down in person with one 
of the guards to the cell of David Henderson. The 
occupant of the cell was asleep, but he woke up 
when the two men entered. 

"Who is it?" he demanded. 

"Webb Mackenzie's man come to release you," 
answered Bucky. 

The prisoner fell to trembling like an aspen. 
"God, man, do you mean it?" he begged. "You 
wouldn't deceive an old man who has lived fifteen 
years in hell?" 

"It's true, friend, every word of it. You'll live 
to ride the range again and count your cattle on the 
free hillside. Come with me up to the office and 
we'll talk more of it." 

"But may I? Will they let me?" trembled Hen- 
derson, fearful lest his cup of joy be dashed from 
him. "I'm not dreaming, am I? I'll not wake 
the way I often do and find that it is all a dream, 
will I?" He caught at the lapel of O'Connor's 
coat and searched his face. 

"No, your dreams are true at last, Dave Hender- 
son. Come, old friend, take a drink of this to 
steady you. It's all coming out right now." 

248 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Tears streamed down the face of the man res- 
cued from a living grave. He dashed them away 
impatiently with a shaking hand. "I used to be as 
game as other men, young man, and now you see 
what a welling I am. Don't judge me too hard. 
'Happiness is a harder thing to stand than pain or 
grief. They've tried to break my spirit many a 
time and they couldn't, but you've done it now 
with a word." 

"You'll be all right as soon as you are able to re- 
alize it. I don't wonder the shock unnerves you. 
Have you anything you want to take out of here 
with you before you leave forever?" 

Pathetically the prisoner looked round on his few 
belongings. Some of them had become endeared 
to him by years of use and association, but they 
had served their time. "No, I want to forget it all. 
I came in with nothing. I'll take out nothing. I 
want to blot it all out like a hideous nightmare." 

Bucky ordered Colonel Gabilonda to bring up 
from his cell General Valdez and the other arrested 
suspects. They reached the office at the same time 
as Mike O'Halloran, who greeted them with the 
good news that the day was won. The Megales 
faction had melted into mist, and all over the city 
a happy people was shouting for Valdez. 

"I congratulate you, general. We have just tele- 
graphed the news over the State that Megales has 
resigned and fled. There can be no doubt that you 
will be elected governor to-morrow and that the 

249 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



people's party will win the day with an unprece- 
dented vote. Glory be, Chihuahua is at last free 
from the heel of tyranny. Viva V aide 2! Viva 
Chihuahua libre!" 

Bucky at once introduced to General Valdez the 
Amercian prisoner who had suffered so long and 
unjustly. He recited the story of the abduction 
of the child, of Henderson's pursuit, of the killing 
of the trooper, and of the circumstantial evidence 
that implicated the Texan and upon which he was 
convicted. He then drew from his pocket a signed 
and attested copy of the confession of the knife 
thrower and handed it to the general. 

Valdez looked it over, asked an incisive question 
or two of Bucky, heard from Henderson his story, 
and, after a few moments' discussion of the mat- 
ter with O'Halloran, promised a free pardon as his 
first official act after being elected to the governor- 
ship, in case he should be chosen. 

The vote next day amply justified the hopes of 
O'Halloran and his friends. The whole ticket, sent 
out by telegraph and messengers throughout the 
State, was triumphantly elected by large majorities. 
Only in one or two out-of-the-way places, where 
the news of the fall of Megales did not arrive in 
time to affect the voting, did the old government 
party make any showing worthy of consideration. 

It was after Valdez's election had been made cer- 
tain by the returns that O'Halloran and Juan 
Valdez posted to the prison and visited father 

250 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



and daughter. They separated in the lower cor- 
ridor, one to visit the defeated governor, the 
other Miss Carmencita. The problem before 
Juan Valdez was to induce that young woman to 
remain in Chihuahua instead of accompanying her 
father in his flight. He was a good fighter, and he 
meant to win, if it were a possibility. She had 
tacitly admitted that she loved him, but he knew 
that she felt that loyalty demanded she stay by her 
father in his flight. 

When O'Halloran was admitted to the cell where 
the governor and the general were staying he 
laughed aloud. 

"Faith, gentlemen, is this the best accommoda- 
tion Governor Valdez can furnish his guests? We 
must petition him to improve the sanitation of his 
hotel." 

"We are being told, one may suppose, that Gen- 
eral Valdez is the newly elected governor?" 

"Right, your excellency, elected by a large ma- 
jority to succeed the late Governor Megales." 

"Late!" The former governor lifted his eye- 
brows. "Am I also being told that necessity de- 
mands the posting of the suicide bulletin, after all?" 

"Not at all. Sure, I gave you me word, excel- 
lency. And that is one of the reasons why I am 
here. We have arranged to run a special down the 
line to-night, in order to avoid the risk of the news 
leaking out that you are still here. Can you make 

251 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



your arrangements to take that train, or will it 
hurry your packing too much?" 

Megales laughed. "I have nothing to take with 
me except my daughter. The rest of my posses- 
sions may be forwarded later." 

"Oh, your daughter! Well, that's pat, too. 
What about the lad, Valdez?" 

"Are you his representative, senor?" 

"Oh, he can talk for himself." O'Halloran 
grinned. "He's doing it right now, by the same 
token. Shall we interrupt a tete-a-tete and go pay 
our compliments to Miss Carmencita? You will 
want to find out whether she goes with you or stays 
here." 

"Assuredly. Anything to escape this cave." 

Miss Carmencita was at that moment reiterating 
her everlasting determination to go wherever her fa- 
ther went. "If you think, sir, that your faithless- 
ness to him is a recommendation of your promised 
faithfulness to me, I can only wish you more light 
on the feelings of a daughter," she was informing 
Valdez, when her father slipped through the panel 
door and stood before her. 

"Brava, senorita!" he applauded, with subtle 
irony, clapping his hands. "Brava, brava!" 

That young woman swam blushingly toward him 
and let her face disappear in an embrace. 

"You see, one can't have everything, Senor Val- 
dez," continued Megales lightly. "For me, I can- 
not have both Chihuahua and my life; you, it seems, 

252 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



cannot have both your successful revolution and my 
daughter." 

"Your excellency, she loves me. Of that I am 
assured. It rests with you to say whether her life 
will be spoiled or not. You know what I can offer 
her in addition to a heart full of devotion. It is 
enough. Shall she be sacrificed to her loyalty to 
you ?" the young man demanded, with all the ardor 
of his warm-blooded race. 

"It is no sacrifice to love and obey my father/' 
came a low murmur from the former governor's 
shoulder. 

"Since the world began it kas been the law of life 
that the young should leave their parents for a home 
of their own," Juan protested. 

"So the Scripture says," agreed Megales sar- 
donically. "It further counsels to love one's ene- 
mies, but, I think, omits mention of the enemies of 
one's father." 

"Sir, I am not your enemy. Political exigencies 
have thrown us into different camps, but we are not 
so small as to let such incidentals come between us 
,as a vital objection in such a matter." 

"You argue like a lawyer," smiled the governor. 
"You forget that I am neither judge nor jury. 
Tyrant I may have been to a fickle people that 
needed a firm hand to rule them, but tyrant I am not 
to my only daughter,' 7 

"Then you consent, your excellency?" cried Val- 
dez joyously. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I neither consent nor refuse. You must go to 
a more final authority than mine for an answer, 
young man." 

"But you are willing she should follow where 
her heart leads ?" 

"But certainly." 

"Then she is mine/' cried Valdez. 

"I am not," replied the girl indignantly over 
her shoulder. 

Megales turned her till her unconsenting eyes 
met his. "Do you want to marry this young man, 
Carmencita ?" 

"I never told him anything of the sort," she 
flamed. 

"I didn't quite ask what you had told him. The 
question is whether you love him." 

"But no; I love you," she blushed. 

"I hope so," smiled her father. "But do you 
love him? An honest answer, if you please." 

"Could I love a rebel?" 

"No Yankee answers, muchacha. Do you love 
Juan Valdez?" 

It was Valdez that broke triumphantly the mo- 
ment's silence that followed. "She does. She 
does. I claim the consent of silence." 

But victory spoke too prematurely in his voice. 
Cried the proud Spanish girl passionately: "I 
hate him!" 

Megales understood the quality of her hate, and 
beckoned to his future son-in-law. "I have some 

254 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



arrangements to make for our journey to-night. 
Would it distress you, sefior, if I were to leave you 
for a while?" 

He slipped out and left them alone. 

"Well?" asked O'Halloran, who had remained 
in the corridor. 

"I think, Sefior Dictator, I shall have to make the 
trip with only General Carlo for a companion," an- 
swered the Spaniard. 

The Irishman swung his hat. "Hip, hip, hur- 
rah! You're a gentleman I could find it in me 
heart to both love and hate, governor." 

"And you're a gentleman," returned the gover- 
nor, with a bow, "I could find it in my heart to 
hang high as Haman without love or hate." 

Michael linked his arm in that of his excellency. 

"Sure, you're a broth of a lad, Senor Megales," 
he said irreverently, in good, broad Irish brogue. 
"Here, me bye, where are you hurrying?" he added, 
catching at the sleeve of Frances Mackenzie, who 
was slipping quietly past. 

"Please, Mr. O'Halloran, I've been up to the 
office after water. I'm taking it to Senorita Car- 
mencita." 

"She doesn't want water just now. You go back 
to the office, son, and stay there thirty minutes. 
Then you take her that water," ordered O'Hal- 
loran. 

"But she wanted it as soon as I could get it, 



sir." 



255 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Forget it, kid, just as she has. Water! Why, 
she's drinking nectar of the gods. Just you do as 
I tell ye." 

Frances was puzzled, but she obeyed, even though 
she could not understand his meaning. She under- 
stood better when she slid back the panel at the 
expiration of the allotted time and caught a glimpse 
of Carmencita Megales in the arms of Juan 
Valdez. 



256 



CHAPTER XVII. 

HIDDEN VALLEY. 

Across the desert into the hills, where the sun 
was setting in a great splash of crimson in the sad- 
dle between two distant peaks, a bunch of cows 
trailed heavily. Their tongues hung out and they 
panted for water, stretching their necks piteously 
to low now and again. For the heat of an Ari- 
zona summer was on the baked land and in the air 
that palpitated above it. 

But the end of the journey was at hand and the 
cowpuncher in charge of the drive relaxed in the 
saddle after the easy fashion of the vaquero when 
he is under no tension. He did not any longer 
cast swift, anxious glances behind him to make sure 
no pursuit was in sight. For he had reached safety. 
He knew the 'Open sesame' to that rock wall which 
rose sheer in front of him. Straight for it he and 
his companion took their gather, swinging the cat- 
tle adroitly round a great slab which concealed a 
gateway to the secret canon. Half a mile up this 
defile lay what was called Hidden Valley, an inac- 
cessible retreat known only to those who frequented 
it for nefarious purposes. 

It was as the man in charge circled round to 
head the lead cows in that a faint voice carried to 

257 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



him. He stopped, listening. It came again, a dry, 
parched call for help that had no hope in it. He 
wheeled his pony as on a half dollar, and two min- 
utes later caught sight of an exhausted figure lean- 
ing against a cottonwood. He needed no second 
guess to surmise that she was lost and had been 
wandering over the sandy desert through the hot 
day. With a shout, he loped toward her, and had 
his water bottle at her lips before she had recov- 
ered from her glad surprise at sight of him. 

"You'll feel better now," he soothed. "How 
long you been lost, ma'am?" 

"Since ten this morning. I came with my aunt 
to gather poppies, and somehow I got separated 
from her and the rig. These hills look so alike. 
I must have got turned round and mistaken one for 
another." 

"You have to be awful careful here. Some one 
ought to have told you," he said indignantly. 

"Oh, they told me, but of course I knew best," 
she replied, with quick scorn of her own self-suffi- 
ciency. 

"Well, it's all right now," the cowpuncher told 
her cheerfully. He would not for a thousand dol- 
lars have told her how near it had come to being 
all wrong, how her life had probably depended upon 
that faint wafted call of hers. 

He put her on his horse and led it forward to the 
spot where the cattle waited at the gateway. Not 
until they came full upon them did he remember 

258 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



that it was dangerous for strange young women to 
see him with those cattle and at the gateway to the 
hidden canon. 

'They are my uncle's cattle. I could tell the 
brand anywhere. Are you one of his riders? Are 
we close to the Rocking Chair Ranch?" she cried. 

He flung a quick glance at her. "Not very close. 
Are you from the Rocking Chair?" 

"Yes. I'm Mr. Mackenzie's niece." 

"Major Mackenzie's daughter?" demanded the 
man quickly. 

"Yes." She said it with a touch of annoyance, 
for he looked at her as a man does who has heard 
of her before. She knew that the story had been 
bruited far and wide of how she had passed through 
the hands of the train robbers carrying thirty 
thousand dollars on her person. She had no doubt 
that it was in this connection her rescuer had heard 
of her. 

He drew off to one side and called his companion 
to him. 

"Hardman, you ride up to the ranch and tell 
Leroy I've just found Miss Mackenzie wandering 
around on the desert, lost. Ask him whether I'm 
to bring her up. She's played out and can't travel 
far, tell him." 

The showman rode on his errand and the other 
returned to Helen. 

"You better 'light, ma'am. We'll have to wait 
here a few minutes," he explained. 

259 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



He helped her dismount. She did not understand 
why it was necessary to wait, but that was his busi- 
ness and not hers. Her roving eyes fell upon the 
cattle again. 

"They are my uncle's, aren't they ?" 

"They were," he corrected. "Cattle change 
hands a good deal in this country," he added dryly, 

"Then you're not one of his riders ?" Her dark 
eyes passed over him swiftly. 

"No, ma'am." 

"Are we far from the Rocking Chair?" 

"A right smart distance. You've been traveling, 
you see, for eight or nine hours." 

It occurred to her that there was something elu- 
sive, something not quite frank, about the replies 
of this young man. Her glance raked him again 
and swept up the details of his person. One of 
them that impressed itself upon her mind was the 
absence of a finger on his right hand. Another was 
that he was a walking arsenal. This startled her, 
though she was not yet afraid. She relapsed into 
silence, to which he seemed willing to consent. 
Once and again her glance swept him. He looked 
a tough, weather-beaten Westerner, certainly not a 
man whom a woman need be afraid to meet alone 
on the plains, but the oftener she looked the more 
certain she became that he was not a casual puncher 
busy at the legitimate work of his craft. 

"Do you live near here?" she asked presently. 

"I live under my hat, ma'am," he told hen 
260 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Sometimes near here, sometimes not so near." 

This told her exactly nothing. 

"How far did you say it was to the Rocking 
Chair?" 

"I didn't say." 

At the sound of a horse's footfall she turned, and 
she saw that whereas they had been two, now they 
were three. The newcomer was a slender, grace- 
ful man, dark and lithe, with quick, piercing eyes, 
set deep in the most reckless, sardonic face she had 
ever seen. 

The man bowed, with a sweep of his hat almost 
derisive. "Miss Mackenzie, I believe." 

She met him with level eyes that confessed no 
fear. 

"Who are you, sir?" 

"They call me Wolf Leroy." 

Her heart sank. "You and he are the men that 
held up the Limited." 

"If we are, you are the young lady that beat us 
out of thirty thousand dollars. We'll collect now," 
he told her, with a silky smile and a glitter of white, 
even teeth. 

"What do you mean? Do you think I carry 
money about with me?" 

"I didn't say that. We'll put it up to your fa- 
ther." 

"My father?" 

"He'll have to raise thirty thousand dollars to 
redeem his daughter." He let his bold eyes show 

261 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



their admiration. "And she's worth every cent of 
it' 1 

"Do you mean " She read the flash of tri- 
umph in his ribald eyes and broke off. There was 
no need to ask him what he meant. 

"That's what I mean exactly, ma'am. You're 
welcome to the hospitality of Hidden Valley. 
What's ours is yours. You're welcome to stay as 
long as you like, but I reckon you're not welcome 
to go whenever you want to not till we get that 
thirty thousand." 

"You talk as if he were a millionaire," she told 
him scornfully. 

"The major's got friends that are. If it's a 
showdown he'll dig the dough up. I ain't a bit 
worried about that. His brother, Webb, will come 
through." 

"Why should he?" She stood as straight and 
unbending as a young pine, courage regnant in the 
very poise of the fine head. "You daren't harm a 
hair of my head, and he knows it. For your life, 
you daren't." 

His eyes glittered. Wolf Leroy was never a safe 
man to fling a challenge at. "Don't you be too sure 
of that, my dear. There ain't one thing on this 
green earth I daren't do if I set my mind to it. 
And your friends know it." 

The other man broke in, easy and unmoved. 
"Hold yore hawses, cap. We got no call to be 
threatening this young lady. We keep her for a 

262 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



ransom because that's business. But she's as safe 
here as she would be at the Rocking Chair. She'? 
got York Neil's word for that." 

The Wolf snarled. "The word of a miscreant. 
That'll comfort her a heap. And York Neil's word 
don't always go up here." 

The cowpuncher's steady eyes met him. "It'll 
go this time." 

The girl gave her champion a quiet little nod 
and a low "Thank you." It was not much, but 
enough. For on the frontier "white men" do not 
war on women. Her instinct gave just the right 
manner of treating his help. It assumed that since 
he was what he was he could do no less. More- 
over, it had the unexpected effect of spurring the 
Wolf's vanity, or something better than his vanity. 
She could see the battle in his face, and the passing 
of its evil, sinister expression. 

"Beg your pardon, Miss Mackenzie. York's 
right. I'll add my word to his about your safety. 
I'm a wolf, they'll tell you. But when I give my 
word I keep it." 

They turned and followed through the gateway 
the cattle which Hardman and another rider were 
driving up the canon. Presently the walls fell 
back, the gulch opened to a saucer-shaped valley, 
in which nestled a little ranch. 

Leroy indicated it with a wave of his hand. "Wel- 
come to Hidden Valley, Miss Mackenzie," he said 
cynically. 

263 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Afraid I'm likely to wear my welcome out if 
you keep me here until my father raises thirty 
thousand dollars," she said lightly. 

"Don't you worry any about that. We need the 
refining influences of ladies' society here. I can see 
York's a heap improved already. Just to teach us 
manners you're worth your board and keep." Then 
hardily, with a sweeping gesture toward the weary 
cattle: "Besides, your uncle has sent up a contri- 
bution to help keep you while you visit with us." 

York laughed. "He sent it, but he didn't know 
he was sending it." 

Leroy surrendered his room to Miss Mackenzie 
and put at her service the old Mexican woman who 
cooked for him. She was a silent, taciturn creature, 
as wrinkled as leather parchment and about as hand- 
some, but Alice found safety in the very knowledge 
of the presence of another woman in the valley. She 
was among robbers and cutthroats, but old Juanita 
lent at least a touch of domesticity to a situation that 
would otherwise have been impossible. The girl 
was very uneasy in her mind. A cold dread filled 
her heart, a fear that was a good deal less than 
panic-terror, however. For she trusted the man 
Neil even as she distrusted his captain. Miscreant 
he had let himself be called, and doubtless was, but 
she knew no harm could befall her from his com- 
panions while he was alive to prevent it. A reas- 
surance of this came to her that evening in the frag- 
ment of a conversation she overheard. They were 

264 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



passing her window which she had raised on ac- 
count of the heat when the low voices of two men 
came to her. 

"I tell you I'm not going, Leroy. Send Hard- 
man," one said. 

"Are you running this outfit, or am I, Neil?" 

"You are. But I gave her my word. That's all 
there's to it." 

Alice was aware that they had stopped and were 
facing each other tensely. 

"Go slow, York. I gave her my word, too. Do 
you think I'm allowing to break it while you're 
away ?" 

"No, I don't. Look here, Phil. I'm not looking 
for trouble. You're major-domo of this outfit. 
What you say goes except about this girl. I'm a 
white man, if I'm a scoundrel." 

"And I'm not?" 

"I tell you I'm not sayin' that," the other an- 
swered doggedly. 

"You're hinting it awful loud. I stand for it 
this time, York, but never again. You butt in once 
more and you better reach for your hardware simul- 
taneous. Stick a pin in that." 

They had moved on again, and she did not hear 
Neil's answer. Nevertheless, she was comforted 
to know she had one friend among these desperate 
outlaws, and that comfort gave her at least an hour 
or two of broken, nappy sleep. 

In the morning when she had dressed she found 
265 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



her room door unlocked, and she stepped outside 
into the sunshine. York Neil was sitting- on the 
porch at work on a broken spur strap. Looking up, 
he nodded a casual good morning. But she knew 
why he was there, and gratitude welled up in her 
heart. Not a young woman who gave way to every 
impulse, she yielded to one now, and shook hands 
with him. Their eyes met for a moment and he 
knew she was thanking him. 

An eye derisive witnessed the handshake. "An 
alliance against the teeth of the wolf, I'll bet. Good 
mo'ning, Miss Mackenzie," drawled Leroy. 

"Good morning," she answered quietly, her hands 
behind her. 

"Sleep well?" 

"Would you expect me to?" 

"Why not, with York here doing the virgin- 
knight act outside your door?" 

Her puzzled eyes discovered that Neil's face was 
one blush of embarrassment. 

"He slept here on the po'ch," explained Leroy, 
amused. "It's a great fad, this outdoor sleeping. 
The doctors recommend it strong for sick people. 
You wouldn't think to look at him York was sick. 
He looks plumb husky. But looks are right de- 
ceptive. It's a fact, Miss Mackenzie, that he was 
so sick last night I wasn't dead sure he'd live till 
mo'ning." 

The eyes of the men met like rapiers. Neil said 
nothing, and Leroy dropped him from his mind as 

266 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



if he were a trifle and devoted his attention to 
Alice. 

"Breakfast is ready, Miss Mackenzie. This way, 
please." 

The outlaw led her to the dining room, where 
the young woman met a fresh surprise. The table 
was white with immaculate linen and shone with 
silver. She sat down to breakfast food with cream, 
followed by quail on toast, bacon and eggs, and 
really good coffee. Moreover, she discovered that 
this terror of the border knew how to handle his 
knife and fork, was not deficient in the little nice- 
ties of table decorum. He talked, and talked well, 
ignoring, like a perfect host, the relation that ex- 
isted between them. They sat opposite each other 
and ate alone, waited upon by the Mexican woman. 
Alice wondered if he kept solitary state when she 
was not there or ate with the other men. 

It was evening before Hardman returned from 
the mission upon which he had been sent in place of 
the obstinate Neil. He reported at once to Leroy, 
who came smilingly to the place where she was 
sitting on the porch to tell her his news. 

"Webb Mackenzie's going to raise that thirty 
thousand, all right. He's promised to raise it in- 
side of three days," he told her triumphantly. 

"And shall I have to stay here three whole days ?" 

He looked with half-shut, smoldering eyes at her 
slender exquisiteness, compact of a strange charm 
that was both well-bred and gypsyish. There was 

267 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



a scarce-veiled passion in his gaze that troubled 
her. More than once that day she had caught it. 

"Three days ain't so long. I could stand three 
months of you and wish for more," he told her. 

Lightly she turned the subject, but not without 
a chill of fear. Three days was a long time. Much 
might happen if this wolf slipped the leash of his 
civilization. 

It was next day that an incident occurred which 
was to affect the course of events more than she 
could guess at the time. A bunch of wild hill steers 
had been driven down by Hardman, Reilly, and 
Neil in the afternoon and were inclosed in the cor- 
ral with the cows from the Rocking Chair Ranch. 
Just before sunset Leroy, who had been away all 
day, returned and sauntered over from the stable to 
join Alice. It struck the girl from his flushed ap- 
pearance that he had been drinking. In his eye 
she found a wild devil of lawlessness that set her 
heart pounding. If Neil and he clashed now there 
would be murder done. Of that she felt sure. 

That she set herself to humor the Wolf's whims 
was no more for her own safety than for that of 
the man who had been her friend. She curbed 
her fears, clamped down her startled maiden mod- 
esty, parried his advances with light words and gay 
smiles. Once Neil passed, and his eyes asked a 
question. She shook her head, unnoticed by Le- 
roy. She would fight her own battle as long as 
she could. It was to divert him that she proposed 

268 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



they go down to the corral and look at the wild 
cattle the men had driven down. She told him she 
had heard a great deal about them, but had never 
seen any. If he would go with her she would like 
to look at them. 

The outlaw was instantly at her service, and they 
sauntered across. In her hand the girl carried a 
closed umbrella she had been using to keep off the 
sun. 

They stood at the gate of the corral looking at 
the long-legged, shaggy creatures, as wild and as 
active almost as hill deer. On horseback one could 
pass to and fro among them without danger, but 
in a closed corral a man on foot would have taken 
a chance. Nobody knew this better than Leroy. 
But the liquor was still in his head, and even when 
sober he was reckless beyond other men. 

"They need water," he said, and with that, 
opened the gate and started for the windmill. 

He sauntered carelessly across, with never a 
glance at the dangerous animals among which he 
was venturing. A great bull pawed the ground, 
lowered its head, and made a rush at the uncon- 
scious man. Alice called to him to look out, then 
whipped open the gate and ran after him. Leroy 
turned, and, in a flash, saw that which for an in- 
stant filled him with a deadly paralysis. Between 
him and the bull, directly in the path of its rush, 
stood this slender girl, defenceless. 

Even as his revolver flashed out from the scab* 
260 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



bard the outlaw knew he was too late to save 
her, for she stood in such a position that he could 
not hit a vital spot. Suddenly her umbrella opened 
in the face of the animal. Frightened, it set its feet 
wide and slithered to a halt so close to her that its 
horns pierced the silk of the umbrella. With one 
hand Leroy swept the girl behind him; with the 
other he pumped three bullets into the forehead of 
the bull. Without a groan it keeled over, dead be- 
fore it reached the ground. 

Alice leaned against the iron support of the wind- 
mill. She was so white that the man expected her 
to sink down. One glance showed him other cat- 
tle pawing the ground angrily. 

"Come !" he ordered, and, putting an arm round 
her waist, he ran with her to the gate. Yet a mo- 
ment, and they were through in safety. 

She leaned against him helpless for an instant 
before she had strength to disengage herself. 
"Thank you. I'm all right now." 

"I thought you were going to faint," he ex- 
plained. 

She nodded. "I nearly did." 

His face was colorless. "You saved my life." 

"Then we're quits, for you saved mine," she an- 
swered, with a shaken attempt at a smile. 

He shook his head. "That's not the same at all. 
J had to do that, and there was no risk to it. But 
you chose to save me, to risk your life for mine." 

She saw that he was greatly moved, and that his 
270 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



emotion had swept away the effects of the liquor 
as a fresh breeze does a fog. 

"I didn't know I was risking my life. I saw you 
didn't see." 

"I didn't think there was a woman alive had the 
pluck to do it and for me, your enemy. That's 
what you count me, isn't it an enemy ?" 

"I don't know. I can't quite think of you as a 
friend, can I?" 

"And yet I would have protected you from any 
danger at any cost." 

"Except the danger of yourself," she said, in a 
low voice, meeting him eye to eye. 

He accepted her correction with a groan, and 
wheeled away, leaning his arms on the corral fence 
and looking away to that saddle between the peaks 
which still glowed with sunset light. 

"I haven't met a woman of your kind before in 
ten years," he said presently. "I've lived on your 
looks, your motions, the inflections of your voice. 
I suppose I've been starved for that sort of thing, 
and didn't know it till you came. It's been like a 
glimpse of heaven to me." He laughed bitterly, 
and went on : "Of course, I had to take to drink- 
ing and let you see the devil I am. When I'm sober 
you would be as safe with me as with York. But 

the excitement of meeting you I have to ride 

my emotions to death so as to drain them to the 
uttermost. Drink stimulates the imagination, and 
I drank." 

271 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I'm sorry." 

Her voice said more than the words. He looked 
at her curiously. "You're only a girl. What do 
you know about men of my sort? You have been 
wrappered and sheltered all your life. And yet you 
understand me better than any of the people I 
meet. All my life I have fought with myself. I 
might have been a gentleman and I'm only a wolf. 
My appetites and passions, stronger than myself, 
dragged me down. It was Kismet, the destiny or- 
dained for me from my birth." 

"Isn't there always hope for a man who knows 
his weaknesses and fights against them?" she asked 
timidly. 

"No, there is not," came the harsh answer. "Be- 
sides, I don't fight. I yield to mine. Enough of 
that. It is you we have to consider, not me. You 
have saved my life, and I have got to pay the debt." 

"I didn't think who you were," her honesty com- 
pelled her to say. 

"That doesn't matter. You did it. I'm going 
to take you back to your father as straight as I 
can." 

Her eyes lit. "Without a ransom?" 

"Yes." 

"You pay your debts like a gentleman, sir." 

"I'm not coyote all through." 

She could only ignore the hunger that stared out 
of his eyes for her. "What about your friends? 
Will they let me go?" 

272 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"They'll do as I say. What kicking they do will 
be done mostly in private, and when they're away 
from me." 

"I don't want to make trouble for you." 

"You won't make trouble for me. If there's any 
trouble it will be for them," he said grimly. 

Neither of them made any motion toward the 
house. The girl felt a strange impulse of tender- 
ness toward this man who had traveled so fast 
the road to destruction. She had seen before that 
deep hunger of the eyes, for she was of the type 
of woman that holds a strong attraction for men. 
It told her that he had looked in the face of his 
happiness too late too late by the many years of a 
misspent life that had decreed inexorably the char- 
acter he could no longer change. 

"I am sorry," she said again. "I didn't see that 
in you at first. I misjudged you. One can't label 
men just good or bad, as the novelists used to. 
You have taught me that you and Mr. Neil." 

His low, sardonic laughter rippled out. "I'm 
bad enough. Don't make any mistake about that, 
Miss Mackenzie. York's different. He's just a 
good man gone wrong. But I'm plain miscreant." 

"Oh, no," she protested. 

"As bad as they make them, but not wolf clear 
through," he said again. "Something's happened 
to me to-day. It won't change me. I've gone too 
far for that. But some morning when you read 
in the papers that Wolf Leroy died with his boots 

273 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



on and everybody in sight registers his opinion of 
the deceased you'll remember one thing. He wasn't 
a wolf to you not at the last." 

"I'll not forget," she said, and the quick tears 
were in her eyes. 

York Neil came toward them from the house. It 
was plain from his manner he had a joke up his 
sleeve. 

"You're wanted, Phil," he announced. 

"Wanted where?" 

i "You got a visitor in there," Neil said, with a 
grin and a jerk of his thumb toward the house. 
"Came blundering into the draw sorter accidental- 
like, but some curious. So I asked him if he 
wouldn't 'light and stay a while. He thought it 
over, and figured he would." 

"Who is it?" asked Leroy. 

"You go and see. I ain't giving away what your 
Christmas presents are. I aim to let Santa surprise 
you a few." 

Miss Mackenzie followed the outlaw chief into 
the house, and over his shoulder glimpsed two men. 
One of them was the Irishman, Cork Reilly, and he 
sat with a Winchester across his knees. The other 
had his back toward them, but he turned as they 
entered, and nodded casually to the outlaw. Helen's 
heart jumped to her throat when she saw it was 
Val Collins. 

The two men looked at each other steadily in a 
long silence. Wolf Leroy was the first to speak. 

274 




THE TWO MEN LOOKED AT EACH OTHER STEADILY IN A LONG SILENCE. 

Page 274. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"You damn fool!" The swarthy face creased 
to an evil smile of derision. 

"I ce'tainly do seem to butt in considerable, Mr. 
Leroy," admitted Collins, with an answering smile. 

Leroy's square jaw set like a vise. "It won't 
\ happen again, Mr. Sheriff." 

"I'd hate to gamble on that heavy," returned Col- 
lins easily. Then he caught sight of the girl's white 
face, and rose to his feet with outstretched hand. 

"Sit down," snapped out Reilly. 

"Oh, that's all right. I'm shaking hands with the 
lady. Did you think I was inviting you to drill a 
hole in me, Mr. Reilly?" 



275 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

A DINNER FOR THREE. 

"I thought we bumped you off down at Epitaph," 
Leroy said. 

"Along with Scotty ? Well, no. You see, I'm a 
regular cat to kill, Mr. Leroy, and I couldn't con- 
scientiously join the angels with so lame a story as 
a game laig to explain my coming," said Collins 
cheerfully. 

"In that case " 

"Yes, I understand. You'd be willing to ac- 
commodate with a hole in the haid instead of one 
in the laig. But I'll not trouble you." 

"What are you doing here? Didn't I warn you 
to attend to your own business and leave me alone ?" 

"Seems to me you did load me up with some 
good advice, but I plumb forgot to follow it." 

The Wolf cursed under his breath. "You came 
here at your own risk, then ?" 

"Well, I did and I didn't," corrected the sheriff 
easily. "I've got a five-thousand policy in the 
Southeastern Life Insurance Company, so I reckon 
it's some risk to them. And, by the way, it's a com- 
pany I can recommend." 

"Does it insure against suicide?" asked Leroy, 
276 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



his masked, smiling face veiling thinly a ruthless 
purpose. 

"And against hanging. Let me strongly urge 
you to take out a policy at once/' came the prompt 
retort. 

"You think it necessary?" 

"Quite. When you and York Neil and Hard- 
man made an end of Scotty you threw ropes round 
your own necks. Any locoed tenderfoot would 
know that." 

The sheriff's unflinching look met the outlaw's 
black frown serene and clear-eyed. 

"And would he know that you had committed 
suicide when you ran this place down and came 
here?" asked Leroy, with silken cruelty. 

"Well, he ought to know it. The fact is, Mr. 
Leroy, that it hadn't penetrated my think-tank that 
this was your hacienda when I came mavericking 
in." 

"Just out riding for your health?" 

"Not exactly. I was looking for Miss Macken- 
zie. I cut her trail about six miles from the Rock- 
ing Chair and followed it where she wandered 
around. The trail led directly away from the ranch 
toward the mountains. That didn't make me any 
easy in my mind. So I just jogged along and 
elected myself an investigating committee. I ar- 
rived some late, but here I am, right side up and 
so hearty welcome that my friend Cork won't hear 
of my leaving at all. He don't do a thing but enter- 

277 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



tain me never lets his attention wander. Oh, I'm 
the welcome guest, all right. No doubt about 
that" 

Wolf Leroy turned to Alice. "I think you had 
better go to your room," he said gently. 

"Oh, no, no; let me stay/' she implored. "You 

would never you would never " The words 

died on her white lips, but the horror in her eyes 
finished the question. 

He met her gaze fully, and answered her dog- 
gedly. "You're not in this, Miss Mackenzie. It's 
between him and me. I shan't allow even you < > 
interfere." 

"But oh, it is horrible! Let me see you alon 
for two minutes." 

He shook his head. 

"You must! Please." 

"What use?" 

Her troubled gaze shifted to the strong, brown 
sun-baked face of the man who had put himself is 
this deadly peril to save her. His keen, blue-gray 
eyes, very searching and steady, met hers with 3 
courage she thought splendid, and her heart cried out 
passionately against the sacrifice. 

"You shall not do it. Oh, please let me talk it 
over with you." 

"No." 

"Have you forgotten already? and you said 
you would always remember." She almost whis- 
pered it. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



She had stung his consent at last. "Very well," 
he said, and opened the door to let her pass into 
the inner room. 

But she noticed that his eyes were hard as jade. 

"Don't you see that he came here to save me?" 
she cried, when they were alone. "Don't you see it 
was for me ? He didn't come to spy out your place 
of hiding." 

"I see that he has found it. If I let him go, he 
will bring back a posse to take us." 

"You could ride across the line into Mexico." 

"I could, but I won't." 

"But why?" 

"Because, Miss Mackenzie, the money we took 
from the express car of the Limited is hidden here, 
and I don't know where it is ; because the sun won't 
ever rise on a day when Val Collins will drive me 
out of Arizona." 

"I don't know what you mean about the money, 
but you must let him go. You spoke of a service 
I had done you. This is my pay." 

"To turn him loose to hunt us down ?" 

"He'll not trouble you if you let him go." 

A sardonic smile touched his face. "A lot you 
know of him. He thinks it his duty to rid the 
earth of vermin like us. He'd never let up till he 
got us or we got him. Well, we've got him now, 
good and plenty. He took his chances, didn't he? 
It isn't as if he didn't know what he was up against. 
He'll tell you himself it's a square deal. He's 

279 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



game, and he won't squeal because we win and he 
has to pay forfeit." 

The girl wrung her hands despairingly. 

"It's his life or mine and not only mine, but 
my men's," continued the outlaw. "Would you turn 
a wolf loose from your sheep pen to lead the pack 
to the kill?" 

"But if he were to promise " 

"We're not talking about the ordinary man he'd 
promise anything and lie to-morrow. But Sheriff 
Collins won't do it. If you think you can twist a 
promise out of him not to take advantage of what 
he has found out you're guessing wrong. When 
you think he's a quitter, just look at that cork hand 
of his, and remember how come he to get it. He'll 
take his medicine proper, but he'll never crawl." 

"There must be some way," she cried desperately, 

"Since you make a point of it, I'll give him his 
chance." 

"You'll let him go?" The joy in her voice was 
tremulously plain. 

He laughed, leaning carelessly against the man- 
telshelf. But his narrowed eyes watched her vigi- 
lantly. "I didn't say I would let him go. What I 
said was that I'd give him a chance." 

"How?" 

"They say he's a dead shot. I'm a few with a 
gun myself. We'll ride down to the plains to- 
gether, and find a good lonely spot suitable for a 
graveyard. Then one of us will ride away, and 

280 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



the other will stay, or perhaps both of us will 
stay." 

She shuddered. "No no no. I won't have it." 

"Afraid something might happen to me, ma'am?" 
he asked, v;'th a queer laugh. 

"I won't have it." 

"Afraid, perhaps, he might be the one left for the 
coyotes and the buzzards?" 

She was white to the lips, but at his next words 
the blood came flaming back to her cheeks. 

"Why don't you tell the truth ? Why don't you 
say you love him, and be done with it? Say it, 
and I'll take him back to Tucson with you safe as 
if he were a baby." 

She covered her face with her hands, but with 
two steps he had reached her and captured her 
hands. 

"The truth," he demanded, and his eyes com- 
pelled. 

"It is to save his life?" 

He laughed harshly. "Here's melodrama for 
you! Yes to save your lover's life." 

She lifted her eyes to his bravely. "What you 
say is true. I love him." 

Leroy bowed ironically. "I congratulate Mr. 
Collins, who is now quite safe, so far as I am con- 
cerned. Meanwhile, lest he be jealous of your ab- 
sence, shall we return now?" 

Some word of sympathy for the reckless scamp 
trembled on her lips, but her instinct told her he 

281 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



would hold it insult added to injury, and she left 
her pity unvoiced. 

"If you please." 

But as he heeled away she laid a timid hand on 
his arm. He turned and looked grimly down at 
the working face, at the sweet, soft, pitiful eyes 
brimming with tears. She was pure woman now, 
all the caste pride dissolved in yearning pity. 

"Oh, you lamb you precious lamb," he groaned, 
and clicked his teeth shut on the poignant pain of 
his loss. 

"I think you're splendid," she told him. "Oh, I 
know what you've done that you are not good. I 
know you've wasted your life and lived with your 
hand against every man's. But I can't help all 
that. I look for the good in you, and I find it. 
Even in your sins you are not petty. You know 
how to rise to an opportunity." 

This man of contradictions, forever the creature 
of his impulses, gave the lie to her last words by 
signally failing to rise to this one. He snatched 
her to him, and looked down hungry-eyed at her 
iweet beauty, as fresh and fragrant as the wild rose 
in the copse. 

"Please," she cried, straining from him with 
shy, frightened eyes. 

For answer he kissed her fiercely on the cheeks, 
and eyes, and mouth. 

"The rest are his, but these are mine," he laughed 
mirthlessly. 

282 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Then, flinging- her from him, he led the way into 
the next room. Flushed and disheveled, she fol- 
lowed. He had outraged her maiden instincts and 
trampled down her traditions of caste, but she had 
no time to think of this now. 

"If you're through explaining the mechanism of 
that Winchester to Sheriff Collins we'll reluctantly 
dispense with your presence, Mr. Reilly. We have 
arranged a temporary treaty of peace," the chief 
outlaw said. 

Reilly, a huge lout of a fellow with a lowering 
countenance, ventured to expostulate. "Ye want 
to be careful of him. He's quicker'n chain light- 
ning." 

His chief exploded with low- voiced fury. "When 
I ask your advice, give it, you fat-brained son of a 
brand blotter. Until then padlock that mouth of 
yours. Vamos" 

Reilly vanished, his face a picture of impotent 
malice, and Leroy continued : 

"We're going to the Rocking Chair in the morn- 
ing, Mr. Collins at least, you and Miss Mackenzie 
are going there. I'm going part way. We've ar- 
) ranged a little deal all by our lones, subject to your 
approval. You get away without that hole in your 
head. Miss Mackenzie goes with you, and I get in 
return the papers you took off Scotty and Web- 
ster." 

"You mean I am to give up the hunt?" asked 
Collins. 

283 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Not at all. I'll be glad to death to see you 
blundering in again when Miss Mackenzie isn't here 
to beg you off. The point is that in exchange for 
your freedom and Miss Mackenzie's I get those 
papers you left in a safety-deposit vault in Epitaph. 
It'll save me the trouble of sticking up the First Na- 
tional and winging a few indiscreet citizens of that 
burgh. Savvy ?" 

"That's all you ask?" demanded the surprised 
sheriff. 

"All I ask is to get those papers in my hand and 
a four-hour start before you begin the hunt. Is it 
a deal?" 

"It's a deal, but I give it to you straight that I'll 
be after you as soon as the four hours are up," re- 
turned Collins promptly. "I don't know what 
magic Miss Mackenzie used. Still, I must compli- 
ment her on getting us out mighty easy." 

But though the sheriff looked smilingly at Alice, 
that young woman, usually mistress of herself in all 
emergencies, did not lift her eyes to meet his. In- 
deed, he thought her strangely embarrassed. She 
was as flushed and tongue-tied as a country girl in 
unaccustomed company. She seemed another 
woman than the self-possessed young beauty he had 
met a month before on the Limited, but he found 
her shy abashment charming. 

"I guess you thought you had come to the end 
of the passage, Mr. Collins," suggested the outlaw, 
with listless curiosity. 

284 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I didn't know whether to order the flowers or 
not, but 'way down in my heart I was backing my 
luck," Collins told him. 

"Of course it's understood that you are on parole 
until we separate," said Leroy curtly. 

"Of course." 

"Then we'll have supper at once, for we'll have 
to be on the road early." He clapped his hands to- 
gether, and the Mexican woman appeared. Her 
master flung out a command or two in her own lan- 
guage. 

"Poco tiempo" she answered, and disappeared. 

In a surprisingly short time the meal was ready, 
set out on a table white with Irish linen and winking 
with cut glass and silver. 

"Mr. Leroy does not believe at all in doing when 
in Rome as the Romans do," Alice explained to 
Collins, in answer to his start of amazement. "He's 
a regular Aladdin. I shouldn't be a bit surprised 
to see electric lights come on next." 

"One has to attempt sometimes to blot out the 
forsaken desert," said Leroy. "Try this cut of 
slow elk, Miss Mackenzie. I think you'll like it." 

"Slow elk! What is that?" asked the girl, tc 
make talk. 

"Mr. Collins will tell you," smiled Leroy. 

She turned to the sheriff, who first apologized, 
with a smile, to his host. "Slow elk, Miss Macken- 
zie, is veal that has been rustled. I expect Mr. 
Leroy has pressed a stray calf into our service." 

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BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I see," she flashed. "Pressed veal." 

The outlaw smiled at her ready wit, and took on 
himself the burden of further explanation. "And 
this particular slow elk comes from a ranch on the 
Aravaipa owned by Mr. Collins. York shot it up in 
the hills a day or two ago." 

"Shouldn't have been straying so far from its 
range," suggested Collins, with a laugh. "But it's 
good veal, even if I say it that shouldn't." 

"Thank you," burlesqued the bandit gravely, with 
such an ironic touch of convention that Alice smiled. 

After dinner Leroy produced cigars, and with 
the permission of Miss Mackenzie the two men 
smoked while the conversation ran on a topic as im- 
personal as literature. A criticism of novels and 
plays written to illustrate the frontier was the line 
into which the discussion fell, and the girl from the 
city, listening with a vivid interest, was pleased to 
find that these two real men talked with point and 
a sense of dexterous turns. She felt a sort of proud 
proprietorship in their power, and wished that some 
of the tailors' models she had met in society, who 
held so good a conceit of themselves, might come 
under the spell of their strong, tolerant virility. 
Whatever the difference between them, it might be 
truly said of both that they had lived at first hand 
and come in touch closely with all the elemental re- 
alities. One of them was a romantic villain and the 
other an unromantic hero, but her pulsing emotions 
immorally condemned one no more than the other. 

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BUCKY O'CONNOR 



This was the sheer delight of her esthetic sense of 
fitness, that strong men engaged in a finish fight 
could rise to so perfect a courtesy that an outsider 
could not have guessed the antagonism that ran be- 
tween them, enduring as life. 

Leroy gave the signal for breaking up by looking 
at his watch. "Afraid I must say 'Lights out/ 
It's past eleven. We'll have to be up and on our 
way with the hooters. Sleep well, Miss Mackenzie. 
You don't need to worry about waking. I'll have 
you called in good time. Buenos noches!' 

He held the door for her as she passed out ; and, 
in passing, her eyes rose to meet his. 

"Buenos noches, senor; I'm sure I shall sleep 
well to-night," she said. 

It had been the day of Alice Mackenzie's life. 
Emotions and sensations, surging through her, had 
trodden on each other's heels. Woman-like, she wel- 
comed the darkness to analyze and classify the tur- 
bid chaos of her mind. She had been swept into 
sympathy with an outlaw, to give him no worse 
name. She had felt herself nearer to him than to 
some honest men she could name who had offered 
her their love. 

Surely, that had been bad enough, but worse was 
to follow. This discerning scamp had torn aside 
her veils of maiden reserve and exposed the secret 
fancy of her heart, unknown before even to her- 
self. She had confessed love for this big-hearted 
sheriff and frontiersman. Here she could plead 

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BUCKY O'CONNOR 



an ulterior motive. To save his life any deception 
was permissible. Yes, but where lay the truth? 
With that insistent demand of the outlaw had 
rushed over her a sudden wave of joy. What could 
it mean unless it meant what she would not admit 
that it could mean? Why, the man was impossi- 
ble. He was not of her class. She had scarce 
seen him a half-dozen times. Her first meeting 
with him had been only a month ago. One month 
ago 

A remembrance flashed through her that brought 
her from the bed in a barefoot search for matches. 
When the candle was relit she slipped a chamois- 
skin pouch from her neck and from it took a sealed 
envelope. It was the note in which the sheriff on 
the night of the train robbery had written his predic- 
tion of how the matter would come out. She was 
to open the envelope in a month, and the month was 
up to-night. 

As she tore open the flap it came to her with 
one of her little flashing smiles that she could never 
have guessed under what circumstances she would 
read it. By the dim flame of a guttering candle, 
in a cotton nightgown borrowed from a Mexican 
menial, a prisoner of the very man who had robbed 
her and the recipient of a practical confession of 
love from him not three hours earlier! Surely 
here was a situation to beggar romance. But be- 
fore she had finished reading the reality was still 
more unbelievable. 

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BUCKY O'CONNOR 



I have just met for the first time the woman I am going 
to marry if God is good to me. I am writing this because I 
want her to know it as soon as I decently can. Of course, I 
am not worthy of her, but then I don't know any man 
that is. 

So the fact goes I'm bound to marry her if there's nobody 
else in the way. This isn't conceit. It is a deep-seated cer- 
tainty I can't get away from, and don't want to. When she 
reads this, she will think it a piece of foolish presumption. 
My hope is she will not always think so. Her lover, 

VAL COLLINS. 

Her swift-pulsing heart was behaving very 
queerly. It seemed to hang delightfully still, and 
then jump forward with odd little beats of joy. 
She caught a glimpse of her happy face, and blew 
out the light for shame, groping her way back to 
bed with the letter carefully guarded against crum- 
pling by her hand. 

Foolish presumption indeed. Why, he had only 
seen her once, and he said he would marry her with 
never a by-your-kave ! Wasn't that what he had 
said? She had to strike another match to learn 
the lines that had not stuck word for word in her 
mind, and after that another match to get a picture 
of the scrawl to visualize in the dark. 

How dared he take her for granted? But what 
a masterly way of wooing for the right man ! What 
idiotic folly if he had been the wrong one! Was 
he, then, the right one? She questioned herself 
closely, but came to no more definite answer than 
this -/.hat her heart went glad with a sweet joy to 
know he wanted to marry her. 

She resolved to put him from her mind, and in 
this resolve she fell at last into smiling sleep. 

280 



CHAPTER XIX. 

A VILLON OF THE DESERT. 

When Alice Mackenzie looked back in after years 
upon the incidents connected with that ride to the 
Rocking Chair, it was always with a kind of glori- 
fied pride in her villain-hero. He had his moments, 
had this twentieth-century Villon, when he repre- 
sented not unworthily the divinity in man; and this 
day held more than one of them. Since he was 
what he was, it also held as many of his black 
moods. 

The start was delayed, owing to a cause Leroy 
had not foreseen. When York went, sleepy-eyed, 
to the corral to saddle the ponies, he found the bars 
into the pasture let down, and the whole remuda 
kicking up its heels in a paddock large as a good- 
sized city. The result was that it took two hours 
to run up the bunch of ponies and another half- 
hour to cut out, rope, and saddle the three that were 
wanted. Throughout the process Reilly sat on the 
fence and scowled. 

Leroy, making an end of slapping on and cinch- 
ing the last saddle, wheeled suddenly on the Irish- 
man. "What's the matter, Reilly ?" 

"Was I saying anything was the matter?" 

"You've been looking it right hard. Ain't you 
290 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



man enough to say it instead of playing dirty little 
three-for-a-cent tricks like letting down the cor- 
ral-bars?" 

Reilly flung a look at Neil that plainly demanded 
support, and then descended with truculent defi- 
ance from the fence. 

"Who says I let down the bars? You bet I am 
man enough to say what I think; and if ye think 
I ain't got the nerve " 

His master encouraged him with ironic derision. 
"That's right, Reilly. Who's afraid? Cough it 
up and show York you're game." 

"By thunder, I am game. I've got a kick corn- 
ing, sorr." 

"Yes?" Leroy rolled and lit a cigarette, his black 
eyes fixed intently on the malcontent. "Well, regis- 
ter it on the jump. I've got to be off." 

"That's the point." The curly-headed Neil had 
lounged up to his comrade's support. "Why have 
you got to be off? We don't savvy your game, 
cap." 

"Perhaps you would like to be major-domo of 
this outfit, Neil?" scoffed his chief, eying him 
scornfully. 

"No, sir. I ain't aimin' for no such thing. But 
we don't like the way things are shaping. What 
does all this here funny business mean, anyhow?" 
His thumb jerked toward Collins, already mounted 
and waiting for Leroy to join him. "Two days 
ago this world wasn't big enough to hold him and 

291 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



you. Well, I git the drop on him, and then you 
begin to cotton up to him right away. Big dinner 
last night champagne corks popping, I hear. What 
I want to know is what it means. And here's this 
Miss Mackenzie. She's good for a big ransom, but 
I don't see it ambling our way. It looks darned 
funny." 

"That's the ticket, York," derided Leroy. "Come 
again. Turn your wolf loose." 

"Oh! I ain't afraid to say what I think." 

"I see you're not. You should try stump-speak- 
ing, my friend. There's a field for you there." 

"I'm asking you a question, Mr. Leroy." 

"That's whatever," chipped in Reilly. 

"Put a name to it." 

"Well, I want to know what's the game, and 
where we come in." 

"Think you're getting the double-cross?" asked 
Leroy pleasantly, his vigilant eyes covering them 
like a weapon. 

"Now you're shouting. That's what I'd like right 
well to know. There he sits" with another thumb- 
jerk at Collins "and I'm a Chink if he ain't car- 
ryin' them same two guns I took offen him, one on 
the train and one here the other day. I ain't sayin' 
it ain't all right, cap. But what I do say is how 
about it?" 

Leroy did some thinking out loud. "Of course 
I might tell you boys to go to the devil. That's 
my right, because you chose me to run this outfit 

292 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



without any advice from the rest of you. But 
you're such infants, I reckon I had better explain. 
You're always worrying those fat brains of yours 
with suspicions. After we stuck up the Limited 
you couldn't trust me to take care of the swag. 
Reilly here had to cook up a fool scheme for us all 
to hide it blindfold together. I told you straight 
what would happen, and it did. When Scotty 
crossed the divide we were in a Jim Dandy of a 
hole. We had to have that paper of his to find the 
boodle. Then Hardman gets caught, and coughs 
up his little recipe for helping to find hidden treas- 
ure. Who gets them both ? Mr. Sheriff Collins, of 
course. Then he comes visiting us. Not being a 
fool, he leaves the documents behind in a safety- 
deposit vault. Unless I can fix up a deal with him, 
Mr. Reilly's wise play buncoes us and himself out 
of thirty thousand dollars." 

"Why don't you let him send for the papers 
first?" 

"Because he won't do it. Threaten nothing! 
Collins ain't that kind of a hairpin. He'd tell us 
to shoot and be damned." 

"So you've got it fixed with him?" demanded 
Neil. 

"You've a head like a sheep, York," admired Le- 
roy. "You don't need any brick-wall hints to hit 
you. As your think-tank has guessed, I have come 
to an understanding with Collins." 

293 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"But the gyurl I allow the old major would 
come down with a right smart ransom." 

"Wrong guess, York. I allow he would come 
down with a right smart posse and wipe us off the 
'face of the earth. Collins tells me the major has 
sent for a couple of Apache trailers from the reser- 
vation. That means it's up to us to hike for Sonora. 
The only point is whether we take that buried 
money with us or leave it here. If I make a deal 
with Collins, we get it. If I don't, it's somebody 
else's gold-mine. Anything more the committee of 
investigation would like to know?" concluded Le- 
roy, as his cold eyes raked them scornfully and came 
to rest on Reilly. 

"Not for mine," said Neil, with an apologetic 
laugh. "I'm satisfied. I just wanted to know. And 
I guess Cork corroborates." 

Reilly growled something under his breath, and 
turned to hulk away. 

"One moment. You'll listen to me, now. You 
have taken the liberty to assume I was going to sell 
you out. I'll not stand that from any man alive. 
To-morrow night I'll get back from Tucson. We'll 
dig up the loot and divide it. And right then we 
quit company. You go your way and I go mine." 
And with that as a parting shot, Leroy turned on 
his heel and went direct to his horse. 

Alice Mackenzie might have searched the West 
with a fine-tooth comb and not found elsewhere 
two such riders for an escort as fenced her that 

294 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



day. Physically they were a pair of superb animals, 
each perfect after his fashion. If the fair-haired 
giant, with his lean, broad shoulders and rippling 
flow of muscles, bulked more strikingly in a dis- 
play of sheer strength, the sinewy, tigerish grace of 
the dark Apollo left nothing to be desired to the 
eye. Both of them had been brought up in the 
saddle, and each was fit to the minute for any emer- 
gency likely to appear. 

But on this pleasant morning no test of their 
power seemed likely to arise, and she could study 
them at her ease without hindrance. She had never 
seen Leroy look more the vagabond enthroned. For 
dress, he wore the common equipment of Cattle- 
land jingling spurs, fringed chaps, leather cuffs, 
gray shirt, with kerchief knotted loosely at the neck, 
and revolver ready to his hand. But he carried 
them with an air, an inimitable grace, that marked 
him for a prince among his fellows. Something of 
the kind she hinted to him in jesting paradoxical 
fashion, making an attempt to win from his sar- 
donic gloom one of his quick, flashing smiles. 

He countered by telling her what he had heard 
York say to Reilly of her. "She's a princess, Cork," 
York had said. "Makes my Epitaph gyurl look like 
a chromo beside her. Somehow, when she looks 
at a fellow, he feels like a whitewashed nigger." 

All of them laughed at that, but both Leroy and 
the sheriff tried to banter her by insisting that they 
knw exactly what York meant. 

295 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"You can be very splendid when you want to give 
a man that whitewashed feeling; he isn't right sure 
whether he's on the map or not," reproached the 
train-robber. 

She laughed in the slow, indolent way she had, 
taking the straw hat from her dark head to catch 
better the faint breath of wind that was soughing 
across the plains. 

"I didn't know I was so terrible. I don't think 
you ever had any awe of anybody, Mr. Leroy." 
Her soft cheek flushed in unexpected memory of 
that moment when he had brushed aside all her mai- 
den reserves and ravished mad kisses from her. 
"And Mr. Collins is big enough to take care of 
himself," she added hastily, to banish the unwel- 
come recollection. 

Collins, with his eyes on the light-shot waves that 
crowned her vivid face, wondered whether he was 
or not. If she had been a woman to desire in the 
queenly, half-insolent indifference of manner with 
which she had first met him, how much more of 
charm lay in this piquant gaiety, in the warm sweet- 
ness of her softer and more pliant mood ! It seemed 
to him she had- the gift of comradeship to perfec- 
tion. 

They unsaddled and ate lunch in the shade of the 
live-oaks at El Dorado Springs, which used to be a 
much-frequented watering-hole in the days when 
Camp Grant thrived and mule-skinners freighted 
supplies in to feed Uncle Sam's pets. Two hours 

296 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



later they stopped again at the edge of the Santa 
Cruz wash, two miles from the Rocking Chair 
Ranch. 

It was while they were resaddling that Collins 
caught sight of a cloud of dust a mile or two away. 
He unslung his field-glasses, and looked long at the 
approaching dust-swirl. Presently he handed the 
binoculars to Leroy. 

"Five of them; and that round-bellied Papago 
pony in front belongs to Sheriff Forbes, or I'm 
away wrong." 

Leroy lowered the glasses, after a long, unflur- 
ried inspection. "Looks that way to me. Expect 
I'd better be burning the wind." 

In a few sentences he and Collins arranged a 
meeting for next day up in the hills. He trailed 
his spurs through the dust toward Alice Mackenzie, 
and offered her his brown hand and wistful smile 
irresistible. "Good-by. This is where you get 
quit of me for good." 

"Oh, I hope not," she told him impulsively. "We 
must always be friends." 

He laughed ruefully. "Your father wouldn't 
indorse those unwise sentiments, I reckon and 
I'd hate to bet your husband would," he added 
audaciously, with a glance at Collins. "But I love 
to hear you say it, even though we never could be. 
You're a right game, stanch little pardner. I'll 
back that opinion with the lid off." 

"You should b^ a good judge of those qualities. 
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BUCKY O'CONNOR 



I'm only sorry you don't always use them in a good 
cause." 

He swung himself to his saddle. "Good-by." 

"Good-by till we meet again." 

"And that will be never. So-long, sheriff. Tell 
Forbes I've got a particular engagement in the hills, 
but I'll be right glad to meet him when he comes." 

He rode up the draw and disappeared over the 
brow of the hillock. She caught another glimpse 
of him a minute later on the summit of the hill be- 
yond. He waved a hand at her, half-turning in his 
saddle as he rode. 

Presently she lost him, but faintly the wind swept 
back to her a haunting snatch of uncouth song: 

"Oh, bury me out on the lone prairee, 
In my narrow grave just six by three," 

Were the words drifted to her by the wind. 

She thought it pathetically likely he might get the 
wish of his song. 

To Sheriff Forbes, dropping into the draw a few 
minutes later with his posse, Collins was a well of 
misinformation literally true. Yes, he had followed 
Miss Mackenzie's trail into the hills and found her 
at a mountain ranch-house. She had been there a 
couple of days, and was about to set out for the 
Rocking Chair with the owner of the place, when he 
arrived and volunteered to see her as far as her 
uncle's ranch. 

"I reckon there ain't any use asking you if you 

298 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



seen anything of Wolf Leroy's outfit," said Forbes, 
a weather-beaten Westerner with a shrewd, wrin- 
kled face. 

"No, I reckon there's no use asking me that," re- 
turned Collins, with a laugh that deceptively seemed 
to include the older man in the joke. 

"We're after them for rustling a bunch of Circle 
33 cows. Well, I'll be moving. Glad you found the 
lady, Val. She don't look none played out from her 
little trek across the desert. Funny, ain't it, how 
she could have wandered that far and her afoot?" 

The Arizona sun was setting in its accustomed 
blaze of splendor, when Val Collins and Alice 
Mackenzie put their horses again toward the ranch 
and the rainbow-hued west. In his contented eyes 
were reflected the sunshine and a serenity born of 
life in the wide, open spaces. They rode in silence 
for long, the gentle evening breeze blowing in 
soughs. 

"Did you ever meet a man of such promises gone 
wrong so utterly ? He might have been anything 
and it has come to this, that he is hunted like a 
wild beast. I never saw anything so pitiful. I 
would give anything to save him." 

He had no need to ask to whom she was refer- 
ring. "Can't be done. Good qualities bulge out all 
over him, but they don't count for anything. 'Un- 
stable as water.' That's what's the matter with him. 
He is the slave of his own whims. Hence he is 
only the splendid wreck of a man, full of all kinds 

299 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



of rich outcropping pay-ore that pinch out when 
you try to work them. They don't raise men gamer, 
but that only makes him a more dangerous foe to 
society. Same with his loyalty and his brilliancy. 
He's got a haid on him that works like they say old 
J. E. B. Stuart's did. He would run into a hun- 
dred traps, but somehow he always worked his men 
out of them. That's Leroy, too. If he had been 
an ordinary criminal he would have been rounded 
up years ago. It's his audacity, his iron nerve, his 
good horse-sense judgment that saves his skin. But 
he's ce'tainly up against it at last." 

"You think Sheriff Forbes will capture him?" 

He laughed. "I think it more likely he'll capture 
Forbes. But we know now where he hangs out, 
and who he is. He has always been a mystery till 
now. The mystery is solved, and unless he strikes 
out for Sonora, Leroy is as good as a dead man." 

"A dead man?" 

"Does he strike you as a man likely to be taken 
alive? I look to see a dramatic exit to the sound 
of cracking Winchesters." 

"Yes, that would be like him," she confessed with 
a shudder. "I think he was made to lead a forlorn 
hope. Pity it won't be one worthy of the best in 
him." 

"I guess he does have more moments set to music 
than most of us, and I'll bet, too, he has hidden 
away in him a list of 'Thou shalt nots/ I read a 
book once by a man named Stevenson that was sure 

300 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



virgin gold. He showed how every man, no mat- 
ter how low he falls, has somewhere in him a light 
that burns, some rag of honor for which he is still 
fighting. I'd hate to have to judge Leroy. Some 
men, I reckon, have to buck against so much in 
themselves that even failure is a kind of success for 
them." 

"Yet you will go out to hunt him down?'* she 
said, marveling at the broad sympathy of the man. 

"Sure I will. My official duty is to look out for 
society. If something in the machine breaks loose 
and goes to ripping things to pieces, the engineer 
has to stop the damage, even if he has to smash 
the rod that's causing the trouble." 

The ponies dropped down again into the bed of 
the wash, and plowed across through the heavy sand. 
After they had reached the solid road, Collins re- 
sumed conversation at a new point. 

"It's a month and a day since I first met you, 
Miss Mackenzie," he said, apparently apropos of 
nothing. 

She felt her blood begin to choke. "Indeed !" 

"I gave you a letter to read when I was on 
die train." 

"A letter!" she exclaimed, in well-affected sur- 
prise. 

"Did you think it was a book of poems? No, 
ma'am, it was a letter. You were to read it in a 
month. Time was up last night. I reckon you read 
it." 

301 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Could I read a letter I left at Tucson, when I 
was a hundred miles away?" she smiled with sweet 
patronage. 

"Not if you left it at Tucson," he assented, with 
an answering smile. 

"Maybe I did lose it." She frowned, trying to re- 
member. 

"Then I'll have to tell you what was in it." 

"Any time will do. I dare say it wasn't im- 
portant." 

"Then we'll say this time." 

"Don't be stupid, Mr. Collins. I want to talk 
about our desert Villon." 

"I said in that letter " 

She put her pony to a canter, and they galloped 
side by side in silence for half a mile. After she 
had slowed down to a walk, he continued placidly, 
as if oblivious of an interruption: 

"I said in that letter that I had just met the young 
lady I was expecting to marry." 

"Dear me, how interesting! Was she in the 
smoker ?" 

"No, she was in Section 3 of the Pullman." 

"I wish I had happened to go into the other 
Pullman, but, of course, I couldn't know the young 
lady you were interested in was riding there." 

"She wasn't." 

"But you've just told me " 

"That I said in the letter you took so much 
trouble to lose that I expected to marry the young 

302 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



woman passing under the name of Miss Wain- 
wright." 

"Sir!" 

"That I expected " 

"Really, I am not deaf, Mr. Collins." 

" expected to marry her, just as soon as she 

was willing." 

"Oh, she is to be given a voice in the matter, is 
she?" 

"Ce'tainly, ma'am." 

"And when?" 

"Well, I had been thinking now was a right good 
time." 

"It can't be too soon for me," she flashed back, 
sweeping him with proud, indignant eyes. 

"But I ain't so sure. I rather think I'd better 
wait." 

"No, no ! Let us have it done with once and for 
all." 

He relapsed into a serene, abstracted silence. 

"Aren't you going to speak?" she flamed. 

"I've decided to wait." 

"Well, / haven't. Ask me this minute, sir, to 
marry )^ou." 

"Ce'tainly, if you cay n't wait. Miss Mackenzie, 
will you " 

"No, sir, I won't not if you were the last man 
on earth," she interrupted hotly, whipping herself 
into a genuine rage. "I never was so insulted in 
my life. It would be ridiculous if it weren't so 

303 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



so outrageous. You expect, do you? And it isn't 
conceit, but a deep-seated certainty you can't get 
away from." 

He had her fairly. "Then you did read the let- 
ter." 

"Yes, sir, I read it and for sheer, unmatched 
impudence I have never seen its like." 

"Now, I wish you would tell me what you really 
think," he drawled. 

Not being able, for reasons equestrian, to stamp 
her foot, she gave her bronco the spur. 

When Collins again found conversation practic- 
able, the Rocking Chair, a white adobe huddle in 
the moonlight, lay peacefully beneath them in the 
valley. 

"It's a right quaint old ranch, and it's seen a 
heap of rough-and-tumble life in its day. If those 
old adobe bricks could tell stories, I expect they 
would put some of these romances out of business." 

Miss Mackenzie's covert glance questioned sus- 
piciously what this diversion might mean. 

"All this country's interesting. Take Tucson now. 
That burg is loaded to the roofs with live stories. 
It's an all-right business town, too the best in the 
territory," he continued patriotically. "She ain't so 
great as Douglas on ore or as Phcenix on lungers, 
but when it comes to the git-up-and-git hustle, she's 
there rounding up the trade from early morn till 
dine." 

He was still expatiating in a monologue with 

304 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



grave enthusiasm on the town of his choice, when 
they came to the pasture fence of the ranch. 

"Some folks don't like it call it adobe-town, and 
say it's full of greasers. Everybody to his taste, I 
say. Little old Tucson is good enough for me." 

She gave a queer little laugh as he talked. She 
iad put a taboo on his love story herself, but she 
resented the perfectly unmoved good humor with 
which he seemed to be accepting her verdict. She 
made up her mind to punish him, but he gave her 
no chance. As he helped her to dismount, he said : 

"I'll take the horses round to the stable, Miss 
Mackenzie. Probably I won't see you again before 
I leave, but I'm hoping to meet you again in Tucson 
one of these days. Good-by." 

She nodded a curt good-by and passed into the 
house. She was vexed and indignant, but had too 
strong a sense of humor not to enjoy a joke even 
when it was against herself. 

"I forgot to ask him whether he loves me or Tuc- 
son more, and as one of the subjects seems to be 
closed I'll probably never find out," she told her- 
self, but with a queer little tug of pain in her laugh- 
ter. 

Next moment she was in the arms of her father. 



305 



CHAPTER XX. 

BACK TO GOD'S COUNTRY. 

To minimize the risk, Megales and Carlo left the 
prison by the secret passage, following the fork to 
the river bank and digging at the piled-up sand till 
they had forced an exit. O'Halloran met them here 
with horses, and the three men followed the river- 
wash beyond the limits of the town and cut across 
by a trail to a siding on the Central Mexican Pacific 
tracks. The Irishman was careful to take no 
chances, and kept his party in the mesquit till the 
headlight of an approaching train was visible. 

It drew up at the siding, and the three men 
boarded one of the two cars which composed it. 
The coach next the engine was occupied by a dozen 
trusted soldiers, who had formerly belonged to the 
bodyguard of Megales. The last car was a private 
one, and in it the three found Henderson, Bucky 
O'Connor, and his little friend, the latter still garbed 
as a boy. 

Frances was exceedingly eager to don again the 
clothes proper to her sex, and she had promised 
herself that, once habited as she desired, nothing 
could induce her ever to masquerade again. Until 
she met and fell in love with the ranger she had 
thought nothing of it, since it had been merely a 

306 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



matter of professional business to which she had 
been forced. Indeed, she had sometimes enjoyed 
the humor of the deception. It had lent a spice of 
enjoyment to a life not crowded with it. But after 
she met Bucky there had grown up in her a new 
sensitiveness. She wanted to be womanly, to forget 
her turbid past and the shifts to which she had 
sometimes been put. She had been a child ; she was 
now a woman. She wanted to be one of whom he 
need be in no way ashamed. 

When their train began to pull out of the depot 
at Chihuahua she drew a deep sigh of relief. 

"It's good to get away from here back to the 
States. I'm tir^d of plots and counterplots. For 
the rest of my life I want to be just a woman/' she 
said to Bucky. 

The young man smiled. "I reckon I must quit 
trying to make you a gentleman. Fact is, I don't 
want you to be one any more." 

She slanted a look at him to see what that might 
mean and another up the car to make sure that 
Henderson was out of hearing. 

"It was rather hopeless, wasn't it?" she smiled. 
"We'll do pretty well if we succeed in making me 
a lady in course of time. I've a lot to learn, you 
know." 

"Well, you got lots of time to learn it," he re- 
plied cheerfully. "And I've got a notion tucked 
away in the back of my haid that you haven't got 
such a heap to study up. Mrs. Mackenzie will put 

307 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



you next to the etiquette wrinkles where you are 
shy." 

A shadow fell on the piquant, eager face beside 
him. "Do you think she will love me?" 

"I don't think. I know. She can't help it." 

"Because she is my mother? Oh, I hope that 
is true." 

"No, not only because she is your mother." 

She decided to ask for no more reasons. Hen- 
derson, pleased at the wide stretch of plain as only 
one who had missed the open air for many years 
could be, was on the observation platform in the 
rear of the car, one glance at his empty seat showed 
her. There was no safety for her shyness in the 
presence of that proverbial three which makes a 
crowd, and she began to feel her heart again in 
panic as once before. She took at once the opening 
he had given. 

"I do need a mother so much, after growing up 
like Topsy all these years. And mine is the dearest 
woman in the world. I fell in love with her before, 
and I did not know who she was when I was at 
the ranch." 

"I'll agree to the second dearest in the world, 
but I reckon you shoot too high when you say the 
plumb dearest." 

"She is. We'll quarrel if you don't agree," trying 
desperately to divert him from the topic she knew 
he meant to pursue. For in the past two days he 
had been so busy helping O'Halloran that he had 

308 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



not even had a glimpse of her. As a consequence of 
which each felt half -dubious of the other's love, and 
Frances felt wholly shy about expressing her own 
or even listening to his. 

"Well, we're due for a quarrel, I reckon. But 
we'll postpone it till we got more time to give it." 
He drew a watch from his pocket and glanced at it. 
"In less than fifteen minutes Mike and our two 
friends who are making their getaway will come 
in that door Henderson just went out of. That 
means we won't get a chance to be alone together 
for about two days. I've got something to say to 
you, Curly Haid, that won't keep that long with- 
out running my temperature clear up. So I'm al- 
lowing to say it right now immediate. No, you 
don't need to turn them brown appealers on me. 
It won't do a mite of good. It's Bucky to the bat, 
and he's bound to make a hit or strike out." 

"I think I hear Mr. Henderson coming," mur- 
mured Frances, for lack of something more effective 
to say. 

"Not him. He's hogtied to the scenery long 
enough to do my business. Now, it won't take me 
long if I get off right foot first. You read my 
letter, you said?" 

"Which letter?" She was examining attentively 
the fringe of the sash she wore. 

"Why, honey, that love-letter I wrote you. If 
there was more than one it must have been wrote 
m my sleep, for I ce'tainly disremember it." 

309 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



He could just hear her confused answer : "Oh, 
yes, I read that. I told you that before." 

"What did you think ? Tell me again." 

"I thought you misspelled feelings." 

"You don't say. Now, ain't that too bad? But, 
girl o' mine, I expect you were able to make it out, 
even if I did get the letters to milling around wrong. 
I meant them feelings all right. Outside of the 
spelling, did you have any objections to them, 
Curly?" 

"How can I remember what you wrote in that 
letter several days ago?" 

"I'll bet you know it by heart, honey, and, if 
you don't, you'll find it in your inside vest pocket, 
tucked away right clost to your heart." 

"It isn't," she denied, with a blush. 

"Sho! Pinned to your shirt then, little pardner. 
I ain't particular which. Point is, if you need to re- 
fresh that ailin' memory of yours, the document is 
right handy. But you don't need to. It just says 
one little sentence over and over again. All you 
have got to do is to say one little word, and you 
don't have to say it but once." 

"I don't understand you," her lips voiced. 

"You understand me all right. What my letter 
said was : 'I love you/ and what you have got to 
say is: 'Yes/" 

"But that doesn't mean anything." 

"I'll make out the meaning when you say it." 

"Do I have to say it?" 

310 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"You have to if you feel it." 

Slowly the big brown eyes came up to meet his 
bravely. "Yes, Bucky." 

He caught her hands and looked down into her 
pure, sweet soul. 

"I'm in luck/' he breathed deeply. "In golden 
luck to have you look at me twice. Are you sure?" 

"Sure. I loved you that first day I met you. 
I've loved you every day since," she confessed sim- 
ply. 

Full on the lips he kissed her. 

"Then we'll be married as soon as we reach the 
Rocking Chair." 

"But you once said you didn't want to be my 
husband," she taunted sweetly. "Don't you remem- 
ber? In the days when we were gipsies." 

"I've changed my mind. I want to, and I'm in 
a hurry." 

She shook her head. "No, dear. We shall have 
to wait. It wouldn't be fair to my mother to lose 
me just as soon as she finds me. It is her right 
to get acquainted with me just as if I belonged to 
feer alone. You understand what I mean, Bucky. 
She must not feel as if she never had found me, as 
if she never had been first with me. We can love 
each other more simply if she doesn't know about 
you. We'll have it for a secret for a month or 
two." 

She put her little hand on his arm appealingly 
to win his consent. His eyes rested on it curiously. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Then he took it in his big brown one and turned it 
palm up. Its delicacy and perfect finish moved him, 
for it seemed to him that in the contrast between 
the two hands he saw in miniature the difference of 
sex. His showed strength and competency and the 
roughness that comes of the struggle of life. But 
hers was strangely tender and confiding, compact 
of the qualities that go to make up the strength of 
the weak. Surely he deserved the worst if he was 
not good to her, a shield and buckler against the 
storms that must beat against them in the great ad- 
venture they were soon to begin together. 

Reverently he raised the little hand and kissed its 
palm. 

"Sure, sweetheart. I had forgotten about your 
mother's claim. We can wait, I reckon," he added, 
with a smile. "You must always set me straight 
when I lose the trail of what's right, Curly Haid. 
You are to be a guiding-star to me." 

"And you to me. Oh, Bucky, isn't it good?" 

He kissed her again hurriedly, for the train was 
jarring to a halt. Before he could answer in words, 
O'Halloran burst into the coach, at the head of his 
little company. 

"All serene, Bucky. This is the last scene, and 
the show went without a hitch in the performance 
anywhere." 

Bucky smiled at Frances as he answered his en- 
thusiastic friend: 

"That's right. Not a hitch anywhere." 
312 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"And say, Bucky, who do you think is in the 
other coach dressed as one of the guards ?" 

"Colonel Roosevelt/' the ranger guessed 
promptly. 

"Our friend Chaves. He's escaping because he 
thinks we'll have him assassinated in revenge," the 
big Irishman returned gleefully. "You should have 
seen his color, me bye, when he caught sight of me. 
I asked him if he'd been rejuced to the ranks, and 
he begged me not to tell you he was here. Go in 
and devil him." 

Bucky glanced at his lover. "No, I'm so plumb 
contented I haven't the heart." 



At the Rocking Chair Ranch there was bustle 
and excitement. Mexicans scrubbed and scoured 
under the direction of Alice and Mrs. Mackenzie, 
and vaqueros rode hither and thither on bootless 
errands devised by their nervous master. For late 
that morning a telephone call from Aravaipa had 
brought Webb to the receiver to listen to a tele- 
gram. The message was from Bucky, then on the 
train on his way home. 

"The best of news. Reach the Rocking Chair to- 
night." 

That was the message which had disturbed the 
serenity of big Webb Mackenzie and had given to 
the motherly heart of his wife an unusual flutter. 
The best of news it could not be, for the ranger had 

'313 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



already written them of the confession of Ander- 
son, which included the statement of the death of 
their little daughter. But at least he might bring 
the next best news, information that David Hender- ( 
son was free at last and his long martyrdom ended. 

So all day hurried preparations were being made 
to receive the honored guests with a fitting welcome. 
The Rocking Chair was a big ranch, and its hos- 
pitality was famous all over the Southwest. It 
was quite unnecessary to make special efforts to 
entertain, but Webb and his wife took that means 
of relieving the strain on them till night. 

Higher crept the hot sun of baked Arizona. It 
passed the zenith and began to descend toward the 
purple hills in the west, went k behind them with a 
great rainbow splash of brilliancy peculiar to that 
country. Dusk came, and died v a way in the midst of 
a love-concert of quails. Velvet night, with its 
myriad stars, entranced the land and made magic of 
its hills and valleys. 

For the fiftieth time Webb dragged out his watch 
and consulted it. 

"I wish that young man had let us know which 
way he was coining, so I could go and meet them. 
If they come by the river they should be in the Box 
Canon by this time. But if I was to ride out, like 
as not they would come by the mesa," he sputtered. 

"What time is it, Webb?" asked his wife, scarcely 
less excited. 

He had to look again, so absent-minded had been 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



his last glance at the watch. "Nine-fifteen. Why 
didn't I telephone to Rogers and ask him to find out 
which way they were coming? Sometimes I'm 
mighty thick-headed." 

As Mackenzie had guessed, the party was wind- 
ing its way through the Box Canon at that time of 
speaking. Bucky and Frances led the way, followed 
by Henderson and the vaquero whom Mackenzie 
had telephoned to guide them from Aravaipa. 

"I reckon this night was made for us, Curly 
Haid. Even good old Arizona never turned out 
such a one before. I expect it was ordered for us 
ever since it was decided we belonged to each other. 
That may have been thousands of years ago." 
Bucky laughed, to relieve the tension, and looked 
up at the milky way above. "We're like those stars, 
honey. All our lives we have been drifting around, 
but all the time it had been decided by the God-of- 
things-as-they-are that our orbits were going to run 
together and gravitate into the same one when the 
right time came. It has come now." 

"Yes, Bucky," she answered softly. "We belong, 
dear." 

"Hello, here's the end of the canon. The ranch 
lies right behind that spur." 

"Does it?" Presently she added: "I'm all 
a-tremble, Bucky. To think I'm going to meet my 
father and my mother for the first time really, for 
I don't count that other time when we didn't know. 
Suppose they shouldn't like me." 

315 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Impossible. Suppose something reasonable," 
her lover replied. 

"But they might not. You think, you silly boy, 
that because you do everybody must. But I'm so 
glad I'm clothed and in my right mind again. I 
couldn't have borne to meet my mother with that 
boy's suit on. Do you think I look nice in this? 
I had to take what I could find ready-made, you 
know." 

Unless his eyes were blinded by the glamour of 
love, he saw the sweetest vision of loveliness he had 
known. Such a surpassing miracle of soft, dainty 
curves, such surplusage of beauty in bare throat, 
speaking eye, sweet mouth, and dimpled cheeks! 
But Bucky was a lover, and perhaps no fair judge, 
for in that touch of vagueness, of fairy-land, lent 
by the moonlight, he found the world almost too 
beautiful to believe. Did she look nice? How beg- 
garly words were to express feelings, after all. 

The vaquero with them rode forward and pointed 
to the valley below, where the ranch-house hud- 
dled in a pellucid sea of moonlight. 

'That's the Rocking Chair, sir." 

Presently there came a shout from the ranch, and 
a man galloped toward them. He passed Bucky 
with a wave of his hand and made directly for Hen- 
derson. 

"Dave! Dave, old partner," he cried, leaping 
from his horse and catching the other's hand. 
"After all these years you've risen from the dead 

316 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



and come back to me." His voice was broken with 
emotion. 

"Come ! Let's canter forward to the ranch," said 
Bucky to Frances and the vaquero, thinking it best 
to leave the two old comrades together for a while. 

Mrs. Mackenzie and Alice met them at the gate. 
"Did you bring him? Did you bring Dave?" the 
older lady asked eagerly. 

"Yes, we brought him," answered Bucky, help- 
ing Frances to dismount. 

He led the girl to her mother. "Mrs. Mackenzie, 
can you stand good news?" 

She caught at the gate. "What news? Who 
is this lady?" 

"Her name is Frances." 

"Frances what?" 

"Frances Mackenzie. She is your daughter, re- 
turned, after all these years, to love and be loved." 

The mother gave a little throat cry, steadied her- 
self, and fell into the arms of her daughter. "Oh, 
my baby! My baby! Found at last." 

Quietly Bucky slipped away to the stables with 
the ponies. As quietly Alice disappeared into the 
house. This was sacred ground, and not even their 
feet should rest on it just now. 

When Bucky returned to the house, he found his 
sweetheart sitting between her father and mother, 
each of whom was holding one of her hands. Hen- 
derson had retired to clean himself up. Happy 
tears were coursing down the cheeks of the mother, 

317 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



and Webb found it necessary 'to blow his nose iiic- 
quently. He jumped up at sight of the ranger. 

"Young man, you're to blame for this. You've 
found my friend and you've found my daughter. 
Brought them both back to us on the same day. 
What do you want? Name it, and it's yours, if 
I can give it." 

Bucky looked at Frances with a smile in his eyes. 
He knew very well what he wanted, but he was 
under bonds not to name it yet. 

"I'll set you up in the cattle business, sir. I'll 
buy you sheep, if you prefer. I'll get you an in- 
terest in a mine. Put a name to what you want." 

"I'm no robber. You paid the expenses of my 
trip. That's all I want right now." 

"It's not all you'll get. Do you think I'm a cheap 
piker? No, sir. You've got to let me grub-stake 
you." Mackenzie thumped a clinched fist down on 
the table. 

"All right, seh. You're the doctor. Give me an 
interest in that map and I'll prospect the mine this 
summer, if I can locate it." 

"Good enough, and I'll finance the proposition. 
You and Dave can take half-shares in the property. 
In the meantime, are you open to an engagement ?" 

"Depends what it is," replied Bucky cautiously. 

"My foreman's quit on me. Gone into business 
for himself. I'm looking for a good man. Will 
you be my major-domo?" 

Bucky 's heart leaped. He had been thinking of 

318 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



how he must report almost immediately to Hurry- 
Up Millikan, of the rangers. Now, he could re- 
sign from that body and stay near his love. Cer- 
tainly things were coming his way. 

"I'd like to try it, seh," he answered. "I may 
not make good, but I sure would like to have a 
chance at it." 

"Make good! Of course you'll make good. 
You're the best man in Arizona, sir," cried Webb 
extravagantly. He wheeled on his new-found 
daughter. "Don't you think so, Frankie?" 

Frances blushed, but answered bravely: "Yes, 
sir. He makes everything right when he takes hold 
of it." 

"Good. We're not going to let him get away 
from us after making us so happy, are we, mother? 
This young man is going to stay right here. We 
never had but one son, and we are going to treat 
him as much like one as we can. Eh, mother?" 

"If he will consent, Webb." She went up to 
the ranger and kissed his tanned cheek. "You must 
pardon an old woman whom you've made very 
happy." 

Again Bucky's laughing blue eyes met the brown 
ones of his sweetheart. 

"Oh, I'll consent, all right, and I reckon, ma'am, 
it's mighty good of you to treat me so white. I'll 
sure try to please you." 

Webb thumped him on the back. "Now, you're 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



shouting. We want you to be one of us, young 
man." 

Once more that happy, wireless message of eyes 
followed by O'Connor's assent. "That's what I 
want myself, seh." 

Bucky found a surprise waiting for him at the 
stables. A heavy hand descended upon his shoul- 
der. He whirled, and looked up into the face of 
Sheriff Collins. 

"You here, Val?" he cried in surprise. 

"That's what. Any luck, Bucky?" 

They went out and sat down on the big rocks 
back of the corral. Here each told the other his 
story, with certain reservations. Collins had just 
got back from Epitaph, where he had been to get 
the fragments of paper which told the secret of the 
buried treasure. He was expecting to set out in the 
early morning to meet Leroy. 

"I'll go with you," said Bucky immediately. 

Val shook his head. "No, I'm to go alone. 
That's the agreement." 

"Of course if that's the agreement." Neverthe- 
less, the ranger formed a private intention not to 
be far from the scene of action. 



320 



CHAPTER XXL 

THE WOLF PACK. 

"Good evening, gentlemen. Hope I don't intrude 
on the festivities." 

Leroy smiled down ironically on the four flushed, 
startled faces that looked up at him. Suspicion was 
alive in every rustle of the men's clothes. It 
breathed from the lowering countenances. It itched 
at the fingers longing for the trigger. The unend- 
ing terror of a bandit's life is that no man trusts 
his fellow. Hence one betrays another for fear of 
betrayal, or stabs him in the back to avoid it. 

The outlaw chief had slipped into the room so 
silently that the first inkling they had of his pres- 
ence was that gentle, insulting voice. Now, as he 
lounged easily before them, leg thrown over the 
back of a chair and thumbs sagging from his 
trouser pockets, they looked the picture of school- 
boys caught by their master in a conspiracy. How 
long had he been there ? How much had he heard ? 
Full of suspicion and bad whisky as they were, his 
confident contempt still cowed the very men who 
were planning his destruction. A minute before 
they had been full of loud threats and boastings; 
now they could only search each other's faces sul- 
lenly for a cue. 

321 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"Celebrating Chaves' return from manana land, 
I reckon. That's the proper ticket. I wonder if 
we couldn't afford to kill another of Collins' fatted 
calves." 

Mr. Hardman, not enjoying the derisive raillery, 
took a hand in the game. "I expect the boys hadn't 
better touch the sheriff's calves, now you and him 
are so thick." 

"We're thick, are we ?" Leroy's indolent eyes nar- 
rowed slightly as they rested on him. 

"Ain't you ? It sure seemed that way to me when 
I looked out of that mesquit wash just above El- 
dorado Springs and seen you and him eating to- 
gether like brothers and laughing to beat the band. 
You was so clost to him I couldn't draw a bead 
on him without risking its hitting you." 

"Spying, eh?" 

"If that's the word you want to use, cap. And 
you were enjoying yourselves proper." 

"Laughing, were we? That must have been 
when he told me how funny you looked in the 'al- 
together' shedding false teeth and information 
about hidden treasure." 

"Told you that, did he?" Mr. Hardman incon- 
tinently dropped repartee as a weapon too subtle, 
and fell back on profanity. 

"That's right pat to the minute, cap, what you 
say about the information he leaks," put in Neil. 
"How about that information? I'll be plumb tick- 

322 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



led to death to know you're carrying it in your 
vest pocket." 

"And if I'm not?" 

"Then ye are a bigger fool than I had expected, 
sorr, to come back here at all," said the Irishman 
truculently. 

"I begin to think so myself, Mr. Reijly. Why 
keep faith with a set of swine like you?" 

"Are you giving it to us that you haven't got 
those papers?" 

Leroy nodded, watching them with steady, alert 
eyes. He knew he stood on the edge of a volcano 
that might explode at any moment. 

"What did I tell yez?" Reilly turned savagely 
to the other disaffected members of the gang. 
"Didn't I tell yez he was selling us out?" 

Somehow Leroy's revolver seemed to jump to 
his hand without a motion on his part. It lay 
loosely in his limp fingers, unaimed and undirected. 

"Say that again, please." 

Beneath the velvet of Leroy's voice ran a note 
more deadly than any threat could have been. It 
rang a bell for a silence in which the clock of death 
seemed to tick. But as the seconds fled Reilly's 
courage oozed away. He dared not accept the in- 
vitation to reach for his weapon and try conclu- 
sions with this debonair young daredevil. He mum- 
bled a retraction, and flung, with a curse, out of 
the room. 

323 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Leroy slipped the revolver back in his holster, 
and quoted, with a laugh : 

"To every coward safety, 
And afterward his evil hour." 

"What's that?" demanded Neil. "I ain't no 
coward, even if Jay is. I don't knuckle under to 
any man. You got a right to ante up with some 
information. I want to know why you ain't got 
them papers you promised to bring back with you." 

"And I, too, sefior. I desire to know what it 
means," added Chaves, his eyes glittering. 

"That's the way to chirp, gentlemen. I haven't 
got them because Forbes blundered on us, and I 
had to take a pasear awful sudden. But I made an 
appointment to meet Collins to-morrow/' 

"And you think he'll keep it?" scoffed Neil. 

"I know he will." 

"You seem to know a heap about him," was the 
significant retort. 

"Take care, York." 

"I'm not Hardman, cap. I say what I think." 

"And you think?" suggested Leroy gently. 

"I don't know what to think yet. You're either 
a fool or a traitor. I ain't quite made up my mind. 
When I find out you'll ce'tainly hear from me 
straight.- Come on, boys." And Neil vanished 
through the door. 

An hour later there came a knock at Leroy 's 
door. Neil answered his permission to enter, fol- 
lowed by the other trio of flushed beauties. To the 

324 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



outlaw chief it was at once apparent with what 
Dutch courage they had been fortifying themselves 
to some resolve. It was characteristic of him, 
though he knew on how precarious a thread his 
life was hanging, that disgust at the foul breaths 
with which they were polluting the atmosphere was 
his first dominant emotion. 

"I wish, Lieutenant Chaves, next time you emi- 
grate you'd bring another brand of poison out to the 
boys. I can't go this stuff. Just remember that, 
will you?" 

The outlaw chief's hard eye ran over the rebels 
and read them like a primer. They had come to 
depose him certainly, to kill him perhaps. Though 
this last he doubted. It wouldn't be like Neil to 
plan his murder, and it wouldn't be like the others 
to give him warning and meet him in the open. 
Warily he stood behind the table, watching their 
awkward embarrassment with easy assurance. 
Carefully he placed face downward on the table the 
Villon he had been reading, but he did it without 
lifting his eyes from them. 

"You have business with me, I presume." 

"That's what we have," cried Reilly valiantly, 
from the rear. 

"Then suppose we come to it and get the room 
aired as soon as possible," Leroy said tartly. 

"You're such a slap-up dude you'd ought to be 
a hotel clerk, cap. You're sure wasted out here. 

325 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



So we boys got together and held a little election. 
Consequence is, we fact is, we " 

Neil stuck, but Reilly came to his rescue. 

"We elected York captain of this outfit/' 

"To fill the vacancy created by my resignation. 
Poor York ! You're the sacrifice, are you ? On the 
whole, I think you fellows have made a wise choice. 
York's game, and he won't squeal on you, which is 
more than I could say of Reilly, or the play actor, 
or the gentlemen from Chihuahua. But you want 
to watch out for a knife in the dark, York. 'Un- 
easy lies the head that wears a crown,' you know." 

"We didn't come here to listen to a speech, cap, 
but to notify you we was dissatisfied, and wouldn't 
have you run the outfit any longer," explained Neil. 

"In that event, having heard the report of the 
committee, if there's no further new business, I 
declare this meeting adjourned sine die. Kindly re- 
move the perfume tubs, Captain Neil, at your ear- 
liest convenience." 

The quartette retreated ignominiously. They had 
come prepared to gloat over Leroy's discomfiture, 
and he had mocked them with that insolent ease of 
his that set their teeth in helpless rage. 

But the deposed chief knew they had not struck 
their last blow. Throughout the night he could hear 
the low-voiced murmur of their plottings, and he 
knew that if the liquor held out long enough there 
would be sudden death at Hidden Valley before 
twenty- four hours were up. He looked carefully to 

326 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



his rifle and his revolvers, testing several shells to 
make sure they had not been tampered with in his 
absence. After he had made all necessary prepara- 
tions, he drew the blinds of his window and moved 
his easy-chair from its customary place beside the 
fire. Also he was careful not to sit where any 
shadow would betray his position. Then back he 
went to his Villon, a revolver lying on the table 
within reach. 

But the night passed without mishap, and with 
morning he ventured forth to his meeting with the 
sheriff. He might have slipped out from the back 
door of his cabin and gained the canon, by circling, 
unobserved, up the draw and over the hogback, but 
he \vould not show by these precautions any fear of 
the cutthroats with whom he had to deal. As was 
his scrupulous custom, he shaved and took his morn- 
ing bath before appearing outdoors. In all Ari- 
zona no trimmer, more graceful figure of jaunty 
recklessness could be seen than this one stepping 
lightly forth to knock at the bunk-house door behind 
which he suspected were at least two men deter- 
mined on his death by treachery. 

Neil came to the door in answer to his knock, 
and within he could see the villainous faces and 
bloodshot eyes of two of the others peering at him. 

"Good mo'ning, Captain Neil. I'm on my way 
to keep that appointment I mentioned last night. 
I'd ce'tainly be glad to have you go along. Noth- 

327 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



ing like being on the spot to prevent double-cross- 
ing." 

"I'm with you in the fling of a cow's tail. Come 
on, boys/' 

"I think not. You and I will go alone." 

"Just as you say. Reilly, I guess you better sad- 
dle Two-step and the Lazy B roan." 

"I ain't saddling ponies for Mr. Leroy," returned 
Reilly, with thick defiance. 

Neil was across the room in two strides. "When 
I tell you to do a thing, jump! Get a move on you, 
and saddle those broncs." 

"I don't know as " 

"Vamos!" 

Reilly sullenly slouched out. 

"I see you make them jump," commented the 
former captain audibly, seating himself comfortably 
on a rock. "It's the only way you'll get along with 
them. See that they come to time or pump lead into 
them. You'll find there's no middle way." 

Neil and Leroy had hardly passed beyond the 
rock-slide before the others, suspicion awake in their 
sodden brains, dodged after them on foot. For 
three miles they followed the broncos as the latter 
picked their way up the steep trail that led to the 
Dalriada Mine. 

"If Mr. Collins is here, he's lying almighty low," 
exclaimed Neil, as he swung from his pony at the 
foot of the bluff from the brow of which the gray 

328 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



dump of the mine straggled down like a Titan's 
beard. 

"Right you are, Mr. Neil." 

York whirled, revolver in hand, but the man who 
had risen from behind the big boulder beside the 
trail was resting both hands on the rock before him. 

"You're alone, are you?" demanded York. 

"I am." 

Neil's revolver slid back into its holster. "Morn- 
in', Val. What's new down at Tucson?" he said 
amiably. 

"I understood I was to meet you alone, Mr. Le- 
roy," said the sheriff quickly, his blue-gray eyes on 
the former chief. 

"That was the agreement, Mr. Collins, but it 
seems the boys are on the anxious seat about these 
little socials of ours. They've embraced the notion 
that I'm selling them. I hated to have them 
harassed with doubts, so I invited the new major- 
domo of the ranch to come with me. Of cou'se, if 
you object " 

"I don't object in the least, but I want him to 
understand the agreement. I've got a posse waiting 
at Eldorado Springs, and as soon as I get back there 
we take the trail after you. Bucky O'Connor is 
at the head of the posse." 

York grinned. "We'll be in Sonora then, Val. 
Think I'm going to wait and let you shoot off my 
other fingers?" 

Collins fished from his vest pocket the papers 

329 



DUCKY O'CONNOR 



he had taken from Scotty's hat and from Webster. 
"I think I'll be jogging- along back to the springs. 
I reckon these are what you want." 

Leroy took them from him and handed them to 
Neil. "Don't let us detain you any longer, Mr. Col- 
lins. I know you're awful busy these days." 

The sheriff nodded a good day, cut down the hill 
on the slant, and disappeared in a mesquit thicket, 
from the other side of which he presently emerged 
astride a bay horse. 

The two outlaws retraced their way to the foot 
of the hill and remounted their broncos. 

"I want to say, cap, that I'm eating humble-pie 
in big chunks right this minute," said Neil shame- 
facedly, scratching his curly poll and looking apolo- 
getically at his former chief. "I might 'a' knowed 
you was straight as a string, all I've seen of you 
these last two years. If those coyotes say another 
word, cap " 

An exploding echo seemed to shake the moun- 
tain, and then another. Leroy swayed in the sad- 
dle, clutching at his side. He pitched forward, his 
arms round the horse's neck, and slid slowly to the 
ground. 

Neil was off his horse in an instant, kneeling be- 
side him. He lifted him in his arms and carried 
him behind a great outcropping boulder. 

"It's that hound Collins," he muttered, as he 
propped the wounded man's head on his arm. "By 
God, I didn't think it of Val." 

330 




HE PITCHED FORWARD, HIS ARM AROUND THE HORSE'S NECK. 



Page 330. 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Leroy opened his eyes and smiled faintly. "Guess 
again, York." 

"You don't mean " 

He nodded. "Right this time Hardman and 
Chaves and Reilly. They shot to get us both. With 
us out of the way they could divide the treasure 
between them." 

Neil choked. "You ain't bad hurt, old man. Say 
you ain't bad hurt, Phil." 

"More than I can carry, York; shot through and 
through. I've been doubtful of Reilly for a long 
time." 

"By the Lord, if I don't get the rattlesnake for 
this!" swore Neil between his teeth. "Ain't there 
nothin' I can do for you, old pardner?" 

In sharp succession four shots rang out. Neil 
grasped his rifle, leaning forward and crouching for 
cover. He turned a puzzled face toward Leroy. "I 
don't savvy. They ain't shooting at us." 

"The sheriff," explained Leroy. "They forgot 
him, and he doubled back on them." 

"I'll bet Val got one of them," cried Neil, his 
face lighting. 

"He's got one or he's quit living. That's a sure 
thing. Why don't you circle up on them from be- 
hind, York?" 

"I hate to leave you, cap and you so bad. 
Can't I do a thing for you?" 

Leroy smiled faintly. "Not a thing. I'll be right 
here when you get back, York." 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



The curly-headed young puncher took Leroy's 
hand in his, gulping down a boyish sob. "I ain't 
been square with you, cap. I reckon after this 
when you git well I'll not be such a coyote any 



more." 



The dying man's eyes were lit with a beautiful 
tenderness. "There's one thing you can do for me, 
York. . . . I'm out of the game, but I want you 
to make a new start. ... I got you into this 
life, boy. Quit it, and live straight. There's noth- 
ing to it, York." 

The cowboy-bandit choked. "Don't you \vorry 
about me, cap. I'm all right. I'd just as lief quit 
this deviltry, anyhow." 

"I want you to promise, boy." A whimsical, 
half-cynical smile touched Leroy's eyes. "You see, 
after living like a devil for thirty years, I want to 
die like a Christian. Now, go, York." 

After Neil had left him, Leroy's eyes closed. 
Faintly he heard two more shots echoing down the 
valley, but the meaning of them was already lost 
to his wandering mind. 

Neil dodged rapidly round the foot of the moun- 
tain with intent to cut off the bandits as they re- 
treated. He found the sheriff crouching behind a 
rock scarce two hundred yards from the scene of 
the murder. At the same moment another shot 
echoed from well over to the left. 

"Who can that be?" Neil asked, very much puz- 
zled. 

332 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"That's what's worrying me, York," the sheriff 
returned. 

Together they zigzagged up the side of the 
mountain. Twice from above there came sounds 
of rifle shots. Neil was the first to strike the trail 
to the mine. None too soon, for as he stepped 
upon it, breathing heavily from his climb, Reilly 
swung round a curve and whipped his weapon to 
his shoulder. The man fired before York could 
interfere and stood watching tensely the result of 
his shot. He was silhouetted against the skyline, a 
beautiful mark, but Neil did not cover him. In- 
stead, he spoke quietly to the other. 

"Was it you that killed Phil, Reilly?" 

The man whirled and saw Neil for the first time. 
His answer was instant. Flinging up his rifle, he 
pumped a shot at York. 

Neil's retort came in a flash. Reilly clutched at 
his heart and toppled backward from the precipice 
upon which he stood. Collins joined the cow- 
puncher and together they stepped forward to the 
point from which Reilly had plunged down two 
hundred feet to the jagged rocks below. 

At the curve they came face to face with Bucky 
O'Connor. Three weapons went up quicker than 
the beating of an eyelash. More slowly each went 
down again. 

"What are you doing here, Bucky?" the sheriff 
asked. 

"Just pirootin' around, Val. It occurred to me 

333 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



Leroy might not mean to play fair with you, so I 
kinder invited myse'f to the party. When I heard 
shooting I thought it was you they had bush- 
whacked, so I sat in to the game." 

"You guessed wrong, Bucky. Reilly and the 
others rounded on Leroy. While they were at it 
they figured to make a clean job and bump off 
York, too. From what York says Leroy has got 
his." 

The ranger turned a jade eye on the outlaw. 
"Has Mr. Neil turned honest man, Val? Taken 
him into your posse, have you?" he asked, with an 
edge of irony in his voice. 

The sheriff laid a hand on the shoulder of the 
man who had been his friend before he turned 
miscreant. 

"Don't you worry about Neil, Bucky," he ad- 
vised gently. "It was York shot Reilly, after Cork 
had cut loose at him, and I shouldn't wonder if that 
didn't save your life. Neil has got to stand the 
gaff for what he's done, but I'll pull wires to get 
his punishment made light." 

"Killed Reilly, did he?" repeated O'Connor. "I 
got Anderson back there." 

"That makes only one left to account for. I 
wonder who he is?" 

Collins turned absent-mindedly to Neil. The lat- 
ter looked at him out of an expressionless face. 
Even though his confederate had proved traitor he 
would not betray him. 

334 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



"I wonder/' he said. 

Bucky laughed. "Made a mistake that time, 
Val." 

"I plumb forgot the situation for a moment/' the 
sheriff grinned. "Anyhow, we better be hittin' his 
trail." 

"How about Phil?" Neil suggested. 

"That's right One of us has ce'tainly got to go 
back and attend to him." 

"You and Neil go back. I'll follow up this gen- 
tleman who is escaping," the ranger said. 

And so it was arranged. The two men returned 
from their grim work of justice to the place where 
the outlaw chief had been left. His eyes lit feebly 
at sight of them. 

"What news, York?" he asked. 

"Reilly and Hardman are killed. How are you 
feelin', cap?" The cow-puncher knelt beside the 
dying outlaw and put an arm under his head. 

"Shot all to pieces, boy. No, I got no time to 
have you play doctor with me." He turned to Col- 
lins with a gleam of his unconquerable spirit. 
"You came pretty near making a clean round-up, 
sheriff. I'm the fourth to be put out of business. 
You'd ought to be content with that. Let York 
here go." 

"I can't do that, but I'll do my best to see he 
gets off light." 

"I got him into this, sheriff. He was all right be- 

335 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



fore he knew me. I want him to get a chance 
now." 

"I wish I could give him a pardon, but I can't 
do it. I'll see the governor for him though." 

The wounded man spoke to Collins alone for a 
few minutes, then began to wander in his mind. 
He babbled feebly of childhood days back in his 
Kentucky home. The word most often on his lips 
was "Mother." So, with his head resting on Neil's 
arm and his hand in that of his friend, he slipped 
away to the Great Beyond. 



336 



CHAPTER XXII. 

FOR A GOOD REASON. 

The young ladies, following the custom of Ari- 
zona in summer, were riding by the light of the 
stars to avoid the heat of the day. They rode lei- 
surely, chatting as their ponies paced side by side. 
For though they were cousins they were getting 
acquainted with each other for the first time. Both 
of them found this a delightful process, not the 
less so because they were temperamentally very dif- 
ferent. Each of them knew already that they were 
going to be great friends. They had exchanged 
the histories of their lives, lying awake girl fashion 
to talk into the small hours, each omitting certain 
passages, however, that had to do with two men 
who were at that moment approaching nearer every 
minute to them. 

Bucky O'Connor and Sheriff Collins were re- 
turning to the Rocking Chair Ranch from Epitaph, 
where they had just been to deposit twenty-seven 
thousand dollars and a prisoner by the name of 
Chaves. Just at the point where the road climbed 
from the plains and reached the summit of the first 
stiff hill the two parties met and passed. The 
ranger and the sheriff reined in simultaneously. 
Yet a moment and all four of them were talking 
at once. 

337 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



They turned toward the ranch, Bucky and Fran- 
ces leading the way. Alice, riding beside her 
lover in the darkness, found the defences upon 
which she had relied begin to fail her. Neverthe- 
less, she summoned them to her support and met 
him full armed with the evasions and complexities 
of her sex. 

"This is a surprise, Mr. Collins," he was in- 
formed in her best society voice. 

"And a pleasure?" 

"Of course. But I'm sorry that father has been 
called to Phoenix. I suppose you came to tell him 
about your success." 

"To brag about it," he corrected. "But not to 
your father to his daughter." 

"That's very thoughtful of you. Will you be- 
gin now?" 

"Not yet. There is something I have to tell you. 
Miss Mackenzie." 

At the gravity in his voice the lightness slipped 
from her like a cloak. 

"Yes. Tell me your news. Over the telephone 
all sorts of rumors have come to us. But even 
these were hearsay." 

"I thought of telephoning you the facts. Then 
I decided to ride out and tell you at once. I knew 
you would want to hear the story at first hand." 

Her patrician manner was gone. Her eyes 
looked their thanks at him. "That was good of 
you. I have been very anxious to get the facts. 

338 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



One rumor was that you have captured Mr. Leroy. 
Is it true?" 

It seemed to her that his look was one of grave 
tenderness. "No, that is not true. You remember 
what we said of him of how he might die?" 

"He is dead you killed him," she cried, all the 
color washed from her face. 

"He is dead, but I did not kill him." 

"Tell me," she commanded. 

He told her, beginning at the moment of his 
meeting with the outlaws at the Dalriada dump and 
continuing to the last scene of the tragedy. It 
touched her so nearly that she could not hear him 
through dry-eyed. 

"And he spoke of me?" She said it in a low 
voice, to herself rather than to him. 

"It was just before his mind began to wander 
almost his last conscious thought. He said that 
when you heard the news you would remember. 
What you were to remember he didn't say. I took 
it you would know." 

"Yes. I was to remember that he was not all 
wolf to me." She told it with a little break of 
tears in her voice. 

"Then he told me to tell you that it was the best 
way out for him. He had come to the end of the 
road, and it would not have been possible for him 
to go back." Presently Collins added gently: "If 
you don't mind my saying so, I think he was right. 
He was content to go, quite game and steady in his 

339 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



easy way. If he had lived, there could have been 
no going back for him. It was his nature to go 
the limit. The tragedy is in his life, not in his 
death." 

"Yes, I know that, but it hurts one to think it 
had to be that all his splendid gifts and capabili- 
ties should end like this, and that we are forced to 
see it is best. He might have done so much." 

"And instead he became a miscreant. I reckon 
there was a lack in him somewhere." 

"Yes, there was a great lack in him somewhere." 

They were silent for a time. She broke it to 
ask about York Neil. 

"You wouldn't send him to prison after doing 
what he did, would you?" 

"Meaning what?" 

"You say yourself he helped you against the 
other outlaws. Then he showed you where to start 
in finding the buried money. He isn't a bad man. 
You know how he stood by me when I was a 
prisoner," she pleaded. 

He nodded. "That goes a long way with me, 
Miss Mackenzie. The governor is a right good 
friend of mine. I meant to ask him for a pardon. 
I reckon Neil means to live straight from now on. 
He promised Leroy he would. He's only a wild 
cow-puncher gone wrong, and now he's haided 
right he'll pull up and walk the narrow trail." 

"But can you save him from the penitentiary?" 

Collins smiled. "He saved me the trouble. Com- 

340 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



ing through the Canon Del Oro in the night, he 
ducked. I reckon he's in Mexico now." 

"I'm glad." 

"Well, I ain't sorry myse'f, though I helped 
Bucky hunt real thorough for him." 
"Father will be pleased to know you got the 
treasure back," Alice said presently, after they had 
ridden a bit in silence. 

"And your father's daughter, Miss Alice is she 
pleased?" 

"What pleases father pleases me." Her voice, 
cool as the plash of ice water, might have daunted 
a less resolute man. But this one had long since 
determined the manner of his wooing and was not 
to be driven from it. 

"I'm glad of that. Your father's right friendly 
to me," he announced, with composure. 

"Indeed!" 

"Sho! I ain't going to run away and hide be- 
cause you look like you don't know I'm in Ari- 
zona. What kind of a lover would I be if I broke 
for cover every time you flashed those dark eyes 
at me?" 

"Mr. Collins!" 

"My friends call me Val," he suggested, smiling. 

"I was going to ask, Mr. Collins, if you think 
you can bully me." 

"It might be a first rate thing for you if I did, 
Miss Mackenzie. All your life you haven't done 
anything but trample on sissy boys. Now, I ex- 

341 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



pect I'm not a sissy boy, but a fair imitation of a 
man, and I shouldn't wonder but you'd find me 
some too restless for a door-mat." His maimed 
hand happened to be resting on the saddle horn as 
he spoke, and the story of the maiming emphasized 
potently the truth of his claim. . 

"Don't you assume a good deal, Mr. Collins, 
when you imply that I have any desire to master 
you?" 

"Not a bit," he assured her cheerfully. "Every 
woman wants to boss the man she's going to marry, 
but if she finds she can't she's glad of it, because 
then she knows she's got a man." 

"You are quite sure I am going to marry you?" 
she asked gently too gently, he thought. 

"I'm only reasonably sure/' he informed her. 
"You see, I can't tell for certain whether your 
pride or your good sense is the stronger." 

She caught a detached glimpse of the situation, 
and it made for laughter. 

"That's right, I want you should enjoy it," he 
said placidly. 

"I do. It's the most absurd proposal I sup- 
pose you call it a proposal that ever I heard." 

"I expect you've heard a good many in your 
time." 

"We'll not discuss that, if you please." 

"I am more interested in this one," he agreed. 

"Isn't it about time to begin on Tucson?" 

"Not to-day, ma'am. There are going to be a 

342 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



lot of to-morrows for you and me, and Tucson 
will have to wait till then." 

"Didn't I give you an answer last week?" 

"You did, but I didn't take it. Now I'm ready 
for your sure-enough answer." 

She flashed a look at him that mocked his con- 
fidence. "I've heard about the vanity of girls, but 
never in my experience have I met any so colossal 
as this masculine vanity now on exhibit. Do you 
really think, Mr. Collins, that all you have to do 
to win a woman is to look impressive and tell her 
that you have decided to marry her?" 

"Do I look as if I thought that?" he asked her. 

"It is perfectly ridiculous your absurd attitude 
of taking everything for granted. Well, it may 
be the Tucson custom, but where I come from it is 
not in vogue." 

"No, I reckon not. Back there a boy persuades a 
girl he loves her by ruining her digestion with 
candy and all sorts of ice arrangements from a 
soda-fountain. But I'm uncivilized enough to as- 
sume you're a woman of sense and not a spoiled 
schoolgirl." 

The velvet night was attuned to the rhythm of 
her love. She felt herself, in this sea of moonlit 
romance, being swept from her moorings. Star- 
eyed, she gazed at him while she still fought against 
his dominance. 

"You are uncivilized. Would you beat me when 
I didn't obey?" she asked tremulously. 

343 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



He laughed in slow contentment. "Perhaps ; but 
I'd love you while I did it." 

"Oh, you would love me.'* She looked across 
under her long lashes, not as boldly as she would 
have liked, and her gaze fell before his. "I haven't 
heard before that that was in the compact you 
proposed. I don't think you have remembered to 
mention it." 

He swung from the saddle and put a hand to her 
bridle rein. 

"Get down," he ordered. 

"Why?" 

"Because I say so. Get down." 

She looked down at him, a man out of a thou- 
sand and for her one out of a hundred million. 
Before she was conscious of willing it she stood 
beside him. He trailed the reins of the ponies, and 
in two strides came back to her. 

"What do you want?" 

"I want you, girl." His arm swept round her, 
and he held her while he looked down into her shin- 
ing eyes. "So I haven't told you that I love you. 
Did you need to be told?" 

"We must go on," she murmured weakly. 
"Frances and Lieutenant O'Connor " 

" Have their own love-affairs to attend to. 

We'll manage ours and not intrude." 

"They might think " 

He laughed in deep delight. " that we love 

each other. They're welcome to the thought. I 

344 



BUCKY O'CONNOR 



haven't told you that I love you, eh? I tell you 
now. It's my last trump, and right here I table 
it. I'm no desert poet, but I love you from that 
dark crown of yours to those little feet that tap 
the floor so impatient sometimes. I love you all 
the time, no matter what mood you're in when 
you flash dark angry eyes at me and when you 
laugh in that slow, understanding way nobody else 
in God's world has the trick of. Makes no dif- 
ference to me whether you're glad or mad, I want 
you just the same. That's the reason why I'm 
going to make you love me." 

"You can't do it." Her voice was very low and 
not quite steady. 

"Why not I'll show you." 

"But you can't for a good reason." 

"Put a name to it." 

"Because. Oh, you big blind man because I 
love you already." She burlesqued his drawl with 
a little joyous laugh : "I reckon if you're right set 
on it I'll have to marry you, Val Collins." 

His arm tightened about her as if he would hold 
her against the whole world. His ardent eyes pos- 
sessed hers. She felt herself grow faint with a 
poignant delight. Her lips met his slowly in their 
first kiss. 

THE END. 



345 



JOHN FOX, JR'S. 

STORIES OF THE KENTUCKY MOUNTAINS 

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Cresset and Donlap's list 

THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE. 
Illustrated by F. C. Yohn. 

The "lonesome pine" from which the 
story takes its name was a tall tree that 
stood in solitary splendor on a mountain 
top.^ The fame of the pine lured a young 
engineer through Kentucky to catch the 
trail, and when he finally climbed to its 
shelter he found not only the pine but the 





young 

engineer a madder chase than "the" trail 
of the lonesome pine." 

THE LITTLE SHEPHERD OF KINGDOM COME 
Illustrated by F. C. Yohn. 

This is a story of Kentucky, in a settlement known as "King- 
dom Come." It is a life rude, semi-barbarous; but natural 
and honest, from which often springs the flower of civilization. 

" Chad." the "little shepherd" did not know who he was nor 
whence he came he had just wandered from door to door since 
early childhood, seeking shelter with kindly mountaineers who 
gladly fathered and mothered this waif about whom there was 
such a mystery a charming waif, by the way, who could play 
the banjo better that anyone else in the mountains. 

A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND. 
Illustrated by F. C. Yohn, 

The scenes are laid along the waters of the Cumberland* 
the lair of moonshiner and f eudsman. The knight is a moon- 
shiner's son, and the heroine a beautiful girl perversely chris- 
tened "The Blight." Two impetuous young Southerners' fall \ 
under the spell of "The Blight's " charms and she learns what 
a large part jealousy and pistols have in the love making of the 
mountaineers. 

Included in this volume is " Hell fer-Sartain" and other 
stories, some of Mr. Fox's most entertaining Cumberland valley 
narratives. 

Ask for compete fret Hat of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction 



GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST., NEW YORK 



ZANE GREY'S NOVELS 

May bt had wherever books are seld. Ask for Cresset & Dunlap's list 
THE LIGHT OF WESTERN STARS 

A New York society girl buys a ranch which becomes the center of frontier war- 
fare. Her loyal superintendent rescues her when she is captured by bandits. A 
surprising: climax brings the story to a delightful close. 

THE RAINBOW TRAIL 

The story of a young clergyman who becomes a wanderer in the treat western 
uplands until at last love and faith awake. 

DESERT GOLD 

The itory describes the recent uprising alone the border, and ends with the finding 
of the gold which two prospectors had willed to the girl who is the story's heroine. 

RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE 

A picturesque romance of Utah of some forty years ago when Mormon authority 
ruled. The prosecution of Jane Withersteen is the theme.of the story. 

THE LAST OF THE PLAINSMEN 

This is the record of a trip which the author took with Buffalo Jones, known as the 
preserver of the American bison, across the Arizona desert and of a hunt in "that 
wonderful country of deep canons and giant pines." 

THE HERITAGE OF THE DESERT 

A lovely girl, who has been reared among: Mormons, learns to love a young- New 
Englander. The Mormon religion, however, demands that the girl shall become 
the second wife of one of the Mormons Well, that's the problem of this great story. 

THE SHORT STOP 

The young hero, tiring of his factory grind, starts out to win fame and fortune as 
a professional ball player. His hard knocks at the start are followed by Such success 
as clean sportsmanship, courage and honesty ought to win. 

BETTY ZANE 

This story tells of the bravery and heroism of Betty, the beautiful young sister of 
eld Colonel Zaae, one of the bravest pioneers. 

THE LONE STAR RANGER 

After killing' a man in self defense, Buck Duane becomes an outlaw along the 
Texas border. la a camp on the Mexican side of the river, he finds a young girlheld 
prisoner, and in attempting to rescue her, brings down upon himself the wrath of her 
captors and henceforth is hunted on one side by honest men, on the other by outlaws. 

THE BORDER LEGION 

Joan Randle, in a spirit of anger, sent Jim Cleve out to a lawless Western mining 
camp, to prove his mettle. Then realizing that she loved him she, followed him out. 



strike, a thrilling robbery gambling and gun play carry you along breathlessly. 

THE LAST OF THE GREAT SCOUTS, 

By Helen Cody Wetmore and Zane Grey 



the Scouts, and later engaged in the most dangerous Indian campaigns. There is 
also a very interesting: account of the travels of "The Wild West" Show. No char- 
acter In public life makes a stronger appeal to the imagination of America than 
Buffalo Bill." whose daring: and bravery made him famous. 

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK 



THE NOVELS OF 

WINSTON CHURCHILL 

THE INSIDE OF THE CUP. Illustrated by Howard Giles. 

The Reverend John Hodder is called to a fashionable church in 
a middle- western city. He knows little of modern problems and in 
his theology is as orthodox as the rich men who control his church 
could desire. But the facts of modern life are thrust upon him; an 
awakening follows and in the end he works out a solution. 
A FAR COUNTRY. Illustrated by Herman Pfeifer. 

This novel is concerned with big problems of the day. As Tfu. 
Inside of the Cup gets down to the essentials in its discussion of re- 
ligion, so A Far Country deals in a story that is intense and dra- 
matic, with other vital issues confronting the twentieth century. 
A MODERN CHRONICLE. Illustrated by J. H. Gardner Soper. 

This, Mr. Churchill's first great presentation of the Eternal 
Feminine, is throughout a profound study of a fascinating young 
American woman. It is frankly a modern love story. 
MR. CREWE'S CAREER. Illus. by A. I. Keller and Kinneys. 

A new England state is under the political domination of a rail- 
way and Mr. Crewe, a millionaire, seizes a moment when the cause 
of the people is being espoused by an ardent young attorney, to fur- 
ther his own interest in a political way. The daughter of the rail- 
way president plays no small part in the situation. 
THE CROSSING. Illustrated by S. Adamson and L. 



Describing the battle of Fort Moultrie, the blazing of the Ken- 
tucky wilderness, the expedition of Clark and his handful of follow- 
ers in Illinois, the beginning of civilization along the Ohio and 
Mississippi, and the treasonable schemes against Washington. 
CONISTON. Illustrated by Florence Scovel Shinn. 

A deft blending of love and politics. A New Englander is th 
hero, a crude man who rose to political prominence by his own pow. 
ers, and then surrendered all for the love of a woman. 
THE CELEBRITY. An episode. 

An inimitable bit of comedy describing an interchange of per- 
sonalities between a celebrated author and & bicycle salesman. It 
is the purest, keenest fun and is American tcf the core. 
THE CRISIS. Illustrated with scenes from Vhe Photo-Play. 

A book that presents the great crisis in our national life witl 
splendid power and with a sympathy, a sincerity, and a patriotism 
that are inspiring. 
RICHARD CARVEL. Illustrated by Malcolm Frazer. 

An historical novel which gives a real and vivid picture of Co- 
lonial times, and is good, clean, spirited reading in all its phases and 
interesting throughout. 

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK 




STORIES OF RARE CHARM BY 

GENE STRATTON-PORTER 

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Cresset and Dunlap's list 

LADDIE. 

Illustrated by Herman Pfeifef . 

This is a bright, cheery tale with tbi 
scenes laid in Indiana. The story is told 
by Little Sister, the youngest member or 
a large family, but it is concerned noj s, 
much with childish doings as with the love 
affairs of older members of the family. 
Chief among them is that of Laddie, the 
older brother whom Little Sister adores 
and the Princess, an English girl who has 
come to live in the neighborhood and about 
whose family there hangs a mystery 
There is a wedding midway in the book 
and a double wedding at the clcwe. 
fHE HARVESTER. Illustrated by W. L. Jacobs. 

"The Harvester," David Langston, is a man of the woods ard 
fields, who draws his living from the prodigal hand of Mothei 
Nature herself. If the book had nothing in it but the splendid figure 
of this man it would be notable. But when the Girl comes to his 
"Medicine Woods," and the Harvester's whole being realizes that 
this is the highest point of life which has come to him there begins 
a romance of the rarest idyllic quality. 
FRECKLES, Decorations by E. Stetson Crawford. 

Freckles is a nameless waif when the tale opens, but the way ^n 
which he takes hold of life; the nature friendships he forms in the 
ercat Limberlost Swamp; the manner in which everyone who meets 
him succumbs to the charm of his engaging personality; and bit 
'love-story with "The Angel" are full of rf>al sentiment. 
A GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST. 
illustrated by Wladyslaw T. Brenda. 

The story of a girl of the Michigan woods; a buoyant lovaul* 
type of the self-reliant American. Her philosophy is one of love and 
iandness towards all things; her hope is never dimmed. And by the 
beer beauty of her soul, and the purity of her vision, she wins front, 
barren and unpromising surroundings those rewards of high courage 
AT THE FOOT OF THE RAINBOW. 
^lustrations in colors by Oliver Kemp. 

The scene of this charming love story is laid in Central indiam 
The story is one of devoted friendship, and tender self -sacrificing 
ove. The novel is brimful of the most beautiful word painting o? 
latttre, and its pathos and tender sentiment will endear it to all. 



GROSSET & DUNLAF, PUBLISHERS, NEW YCRK 



MYRTLE REED'S NOVELS 



May bo had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grocset & Dunlap's list 



LAVENDER AND OLD LACE. 

A charming story of a quaint corner of 
New England where bygone romance finds a 
modern parallel The story centers round 
the coming of love to the young people on 
the staff of a newspaper and it is one of the 
prettiest, sweetest and quaintest of old fash- 
ioned love stories, * * * a rare book, ex- 
quisite in spirit and conception, full of 
delicate fancy, of tenderness, of delightful 
humor and spODtaniety. 




A SPINNER IN THE SUN. 

Miss Myrtle Reed may always be depended upon to write a strry 
in which poetry, charm, tenderness and humor are combined into a 
clever and entertaining book. Her characters are delightful and she 
always displays a quaint humor of expression and a quiet feeling of 
pathos which give a touch of active realism to all her writings, in 
"A Spinner in the Sun" she tells an old-fashioned love story, of a 
veiled lady who lives in solitude and whose features her neighbors 
have never seen. There is a mystery at th : heart of the book thai 
throws over it the glamour of romance, 

TOE MASTER'S VIOLIN, 

A love story in a musical atmosphere. A picturesque, old Ger- 
man virtuoso is the reverent possessor of a genuine "Cremona." He 
consents to take for his pupil a handsome youth who proves to have 
an aptitude for technique, but not the soul of an artist The youth 
has led the liappy, careless lif e of a modern, well-to-do young Amer 
lean and he cannot, with his meagre past, express the love, the passion 
tnd the tragedies of life and all its happy phases as can the master 
who has lived life in all its fulness. But a girl comes into his life- a 
beautiful bit of human driftwood that his aunt had taken into her 
heart and home, and through his passionate love for her, he learns 
the lessons that life has to give and his soul awakes. 

founded on a fact that all artists realize. 



for a complete fret list of C. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fictia* 



GROSSET & DUNIAP, 526 WEST 26th -ST., NEW YORK 

1 ' ~* 



GROSSET& DUNLAP'S 

DRAMATIZED NOVELS 

THE KIND THAT ARE MAKING THEATRICAL HISTORY 
May ba had whtrevar books are sold. Ask for Grosset ft Dunlap't lltt 

WITHIN THE LAW. By Bayard Veffler & Marvin Dana. 
Illustrated by Wm. Charles Cooke. 

This is a novelization of the immensely successful play which raQ 
for two years in New York and Chicago. 

The plot of this powerful novel is of a young woman's revenge 
directed against her employer who allowed her to be sent to prison 
for three years on a charge of theft, of which she was innocent. 

WHAT HAPPENED TO MARY. By Robert Carlton Brown. 
Illustrated with scenes from the play. 

This is a narrative of a young and innocent country girl who is 
Suddenly thrown into the very heart of New York, "the land of her 
dreams," where she is exposed to all sorts of temptations and dangers. 

The story of Mary is being told *u moving pictures and played in 
theatres all over the world. 

THE RETURN OF PETER GKfMM. By David Belasco. 
Illustrated by John Kae, 

This is a novelization of the popular play in which David War, 
field, as Old Peter Grimm, scored such a remarkable success. 

The story is spectacular and extremely pathetic but withal, 
powerful, both as a book and as a play. 
THE GARDEN OF ALLAH. By Robert Hichens. 

This novel is an intense, glowing epic of the great desert, sunlit 
barbaric, with its marvelous atmosphere of vastness and loneliness, 

It is a book of rapturous beauty, vivid in word painting. The play 
has been staged with magnificent cast and gergeous properties. 
BFN HUR. A Tale of the Christ. By General Lew Wallace. 

The whole world has placed this famous Religious-Historical Ro- 
mance on a height of pre-eminence which no other novel of its tune 
has reached. The clashing of rivalry and the deepest human passions, 
the perfect reproduction of brilliant Roman life, and tb"; tense, fierce 
atmosphere of the arena have kept their deep fascination, A tre- 
mendous dramatic success. 

BOUGHT AKD PAID FOR. By George Broadhurst and Arthur 
Hornblow. Illustrated with scenes from the play. 

A stupendous arraignment of modern marriage which has created 
an interest on the stage that is almost unparalleled. The scenes are laid 
in New York, and deal with conditions among both the rich and poor. 

The interest of the story turns on the day-by-day developments 
which show the young wife the price she has pafcL _ 

Ask for complete fret Ust of G. & D. Popular Co^yrigTitd Fiction 

GROSSET <& DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST.. NEW YORK 



14 DAY USE 

RETURN TO DESK FROM WHICH BORROWED 

LOAN DEPT. 

This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 

on the date to which renewed. 
Renewed books are subject to immediate recall. 



i '67 -2 Pi 



LD 21A-60m-2,'67 
(H241slO)476B 



General Library 

University of California 

Berkeley